Monday, July 27, 2009

A Storytime Winner: Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krause Rosenthal

Duck! Rabbit! is so much fun and so, so simple. Ridiculously simple, really, when you look at how successful it is at conveying a fairly complicated concept, the double picture optical illusion (one image which can be seen two different ways). It must have been a lot of work to make a book this smart and succinct, but I'm glad Rosenthal went the distance, because now I have a brand-new book I can read at a mixed-ages storytime without boring either the two-year-olds or the ten-year-olds. In my world, that's a rare and precious thing.

In Duck! Rabbit!, two characters we never see argue about whether the picture on the page is of a duck or a rabbit. As each character makes a point (It's a duck! That's its bill!) the other one comes up with an equally plausible counter-point (It's a rabbit. And those are its ears). No matter how the picture moves on the page, or what backdrop it is given, it is always possible for us to imagine it as either a duck or a rabbit. The clean black outlines and clear colours make it possible for even very young readers and listeners to see what's going on, and the fact that, in real life, ducks and rabbits don't look like each other at all only adds to the fun. I loved the sly little touch on the back cover (look for the ISBN barcode--or is that a zebra?)

Duck! Rabbit! reminds me a bit of Jules Feiffer's Bark, George, another of my favourite read-alouds, again based on a simple concept that I really should have thought of first, but didn't.

I guess that's why I'm a librarian and not a writer.

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