One Seal

John Stadler, Author, John Stadler, Illustrator Orchard Books (NY) $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-531-30195-1
A boy's wayward kite occasions, unfortunately, an equally wayward tale. As the child's red kite heads out to sea, he runs after it and encounters a seal on the beach. To the rescue comes a hodgepodge of creatures, including a monkey, polar bear and tiger: ""One.../ ...by one.../ ...they came."" The group begins a pyramid of sorts, all balanced on the seal's nose. The stalwart seal never buckles under the strain of, ultimately, more than 20 animals, among them a whale, elephant and Tyrannosaurus rex. In the climactic spread, the crab at the top of the orderly animal mountain nabs the kite string; not until photos are taken and the crowd disperses, however, does the seal return the kite to the boy. Sometimes readers get a glimpse of the next animal to join the crowd, most times they do not--and readers are left to wonder what is supposed to hatch from a giant egg that begins to crack in the series of pictures. As in Stadler's earlier picture books (Hooray for Snail!; Three Cheers for Hippo!), the creatures here are amiable and companionable, and a minimal use of words for the majority of the book would seem to make this a good selection for those who can't yet read on their own. In one pivotal spread, though, the storytelling doesn't depend on the pictures, but rather relies purely on text (""Photographs were taken. Names, addresses, and phone numbers were exchanged. All agreed that they must get together soon and do it again"")--and children may need an adult to explain the humor. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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