TANKA TANKA SKUNK!

Steve Webb, Author . Scholastic/Orchard $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-439-57844-8

This first picture book from a British graphic designer exudes a veteran's assurance and easygoing enthusiasm. Tanka and Skunk are avid bass drummers; they are also, respectively, an elephant and a skunk. Together, these cartooned percussionists lead readers through a time-beating exercise that acts as an introduction to the rhythm of words. They begin with their own names: "Skunka Tanka/ Skunka Tanka/ Tanka Tanka Skunk!" Background stripes of contrasting colors provide cues to breaking up the beat into measures, and the rough-and-ready typeface grows in size to encourage a hearty pumping up of the volume. The text moves from a simple meter to groovy, tongue-tickling examples of zoological word jazz: "panda/ panther/ tiger/ zebra/ alligator/ fox / tiny little hairy spider/ armadillo/ ox ." The infectious cadences and comic animal portraits make beautiful music together to the very last page (when the narrator declares, "Once more from the top.../ faster this time, please!"). A surefire method for turning young readers into confirmed beatniks. Ages 4-8. (June)

Reviewed on: 07/26/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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