Penelope Nuthatch and the Big Surprise

David Gavril, Author . Abrams $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-5762-6

A nuthatch named Penelope gets her feathers in a flutter when the reality of a special excursion doesn't match up with her expectations. In this somewhat protracted tale, Luther Crow invites Penelope for "an unforgettable surprise," and she expects they'll take in a production of Swan Lake . (She's shown reading a review of the performance in the Daily Bird Feeder , with quotations from Roger Egret—who calls it "unforgettable"—and Rex Weed.) When the surprise turns out to be a trip to Wet and Wild Water World, a flabbergasted and deflated Penelope initially mopes while Luther partakes in the fun. Gavril's (Hector and the Noisy Neighbor ) pen and watercolor cartoons feature an all-animal, comic theme park with rides like the "Roller Tub" (a roller coaster with bathtub cars) and a sign that reads, "No Cats in the Kitty Pool." Some of the countless plays on words and situational humor will float over the heads of youngest readers (e.g., at a French beauty shop, Madame Twigg tells Penelope, "Heads up for ze pins!"), but the message of Penelope's eventual and lighthearted "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude sails across. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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