cover image The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

Eric Carle. Philomel Books, $22.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23201-5

At once stark and sophisticated, Carle's trademark collage art fills the pages of his latest Very volume (The Very Quiet Cricket; The Very Lonely Firefly). The author's opening note explains that the persevering click beetle often lands on its back and is unable to right itself. By stretching, it releases a snap mechanism that makes an audible click and flips the beetle into the air, after which it lands on its feet--sometimes. Coached by a wise old click beetle and encouraged by a string of supportive animals (""Better luck next time.... Keep on trying""), Carle's stylized little beetle repeatedly attempts to maneuver himself off his back and onto his feet. The book's never-give-up message registers loud and clear, unlike the ""Click"" sound that youngsters may well expect each time this word appears as the beetle hurls himself back into the air. Rather, the computer chip (which has a replaceable battery) activates only once--to emit six clicks, during the beetle's climactic triple-somersault. (But if the reader flips the pages quickly, instead of turning them ceremoniously, unwanted clicks clack out.) Ultimately, the gimmick distracts from the story and does not enhance it. All ages. (Sept.)