The Duck and the Kangaroo

Edward Lear, illus. by Jane Wattenberg. Greenwillow, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-136683-3
Images sampled from artists like John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and Lear himself accompany this classic poem to create an overall visual effect that is far from naturalistic. The duck and kangaroo—which Wattenberg (Never Cry Woof) photographed at the San Francisco Zoo and in Australia, respectively—who have superimposed cartoon eyes, are juxtaposed against a neon backdrop of assorted flora and fauna, creating an explosive, whimsical collage (massive stalks of asparagus appear as marsh grasses, and ink-drawn b&w animals congregate with more photo-real specimens by a shore). When the duck implores, "Please give me a ride on your back!/ ... I would sit quite still, and say nothing but ‘Quack,'/ The whole of the long day through," the kangaroo's sole reservation—the duck's "unpleasantly wet and cold" feet—is solved by a pair of blue "worsted socks." The duo hop around the world, under giant golden grapes, past a backdrop of Technicolor sea cliffs, and through an icy mountain landscape framed with blossoming branches. The groovy assemblage of artistic styles pays fitting homage to the unlikely—but starry-eyed—pair. Ages 2—5. (Oct)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2010
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-06-136684-0
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