Kai-Mook

Guido van Genechten, Author
Guido van Genechten. Clavis, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-60537-096-5
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This zoo tale doesn't go where readers will expect, but its message is entertaining. All the animals come running when Mommy Elephant finally has her baby, and it looks as if the story will focus on what the baby does and how she grows. Instead, attention lingers on the praise the adults heap on her. "Here and there she is soft and pink like me!" says Pig. "She is so cute, oink-oink!" Each of the animals finds something attractive about the baby to exclaim over. ("And look at her nose!" says Gorilla. "It reminds me of a banana. She is so cute, screech-screech!") Like any small being, though, the baby elephant rebels. "I am not cute," she announces. "I am Kai-Mook!" The story stops there; Kai-Mook doesn't persuade the adults to take her seriously, nor is she reconciled to their fond admiration. Yet van Genechten's (No Ghost Under My Bed) cartoonish characters are engaging and his spreads are full of action; he captures the divide between sentimental age and independent youth. Children will appreciate Kai-Mook's strong declaration—it's one they have probably made themselves. Ages 3–5. (July)
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