cover image GUJI GUJI


Chih-Yuan Chen, . . Kane/Miller, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-929132-67-6

As with Chen's On My Way to Buy Eggs , his muted ink-and-wash drawings of gray and brown makes this picture book look like an old classic. And, with its deft pacing and spare text, it shares the same virtues. An overlarge nut-brown egg lands in Mother Duck's nest of pure white ovoids, but "Mother Duck didn't notice. (She was reading.)" When the brown egg bursts open, "a rather odd-looking duckling" emerges, crying "Guji Guji." The scaly green fellow joins his feathered siblings Crayon, Zebra and Moonlight. To the mother's credit, she never remarks on Guji Guji's big snout or his reptilian tail. She loves "all her ducklings the same." On the opposite page, an untidy heap of three sleepy ducklings and one sleepy crocodile listen to Mother Duck read aloud. Then three bad crocodiles catch Guji Guji alone. They tell him that not only is he not a duck, he's supposed to be eating ducks. "I am not a bad crocodile," the hero says, making an experimental fierce face. "Of course, I'm not exactly a duck, either." Guji Guji hatches a wonderful plan to defeat the bad crocodiles, and the ducks declare him "duck hero of the day." Chen's story of love, acceptance and self-discovery gives every sign of becoming a well-worn favorite. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)