Can You Do This, Old Badger?
Eve Bunting. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201654-8
Bunting (Smoky Night) features two badgers walking along a forest path at sunset in the opening shot of this somewhat plodding intergenerational tale. When Little Badger proudly shows off his ability to jump, roll down the hill and climb trees, he says, ""It's sad that you are old now and can't do many things."" Old Badger answers, ""There are some things I can't do now... But you help me remember how it was when I was young. And that makes me happy."" Unfortunately, there is little tension or development in the plot. Through the remainder of the book, Old Badger patiently instructs Little Badger in one task after another. The young one's too coy questions (""How do you know so much?"") and the elder's preachy tone (""That's the way it was planned"") make the characters' dialogue sound somewhat hollow; the artwork, however, succeeds in creating depth in the relationship between the two. Newcomer Pham suffuses her watercolors of the affectionate pair with glowing twilight tones and loving warmth. She captures Little Badger's insouciance and tumbling toddler exuberance as well as Old Badger's steady and serene demeanor. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000