cover image One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree

Daniel Bernstrom, illus. by Brendan Wenzel. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-235485-3

It’s never a good day to be eaten, but when a hungry snake swallows a brown-skinned boy in “the shade of the eucalyptus, eucalyptus tree,” the child doesn’t skip a beat. From inside the snake’s “belly dark and deep,” the boy cannily advises the snake to gorge away: “There is room, so much room./ Go ahead, please enjoy!” Down the hatch go wide-eyed critters big and small, each one proving once again that Wenzel (Beastly Babies) knows how to mix his media: there’s a luxuriously whiskered cat, a sloth with a sweaterlike coating of moss, “an ape eating grapes,/ lounging like a queen,” and a very big bear. Debut author Bernstrom eschews the usual rhythmic recapping common to cumulative tales, instead drawing in readers with lilting refrains and exuberant wordplay (“Up, up snaked the snake/ from his place in the leave,/ and gobbled up the bear/ with the qually-wally hair”). The book’s rhythms are perfectly suited to reading aloud—as is the enormous onomatopoeic regurgitation that sends the swallowed creatures back into the daylight. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)