James Kaczman, Author, James Kaczman, Illustrator . Houghton $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-09460-8

In this chirpy picture book, Kaczman incorporates the geometric shapes and pleasingly flat colors used in his debut, When a Line Bends... A Shape Begins, to craft an original if familiar-feeling fable about a bird of a different feather. The titular bird would rather walk than fly ("I don't really have anything against flying,... but I love walking around... and besides, I don't like to flap my wings") and prefers seeds to live foodstuffs. Kaczman shows him explaining himself to a quartet of winged fellows (they think, "He is very odd"). The bird then befriends a talkative worm. The chatty pair enjoy their daily walkabouts until winter begins its approach, and the duo hatch a plan to head south on the back of a sly fox. Luckily, the fox can't eat his prey as originally intended because he's come to know them as "charming, funny fellows," but their next lift, a snake, is not charmed by them. Luckily again, they discover a more modern mode of transportation. Kaczman's text clips along as the very social bird and worm make plentiful conversation. His boldly outlined ink-and-watercolor compositions in a crisp palette of mustard yellow, burnt orange and cornflower blue emit a sunny vibe that, together with his triangular shapes and half circles, suggests a kind of preschool fantasy land. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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