cover image Up, Tall and High

Up, Tall and High

Ethan Long. Putnam, $15.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-399-25611-0

With the help of a flock of brightly colored, googly-eyed birds and some gatefold pages, Long (Chamelia) explores the title’s three words in a trio of short stories with the vibe of an animated educational TV clip. “I am tall,” declares a self-satisfied orange bird. “I am tall,” says a purple bird, who towers over him to the first bird’s chagrin. A pair of impossibly long bird legs steps in between them—“I am tall” shouts a voice from above—then a gatefold page opens to reveal a squat green bird on stilts. “You are not tall!” the exasperated birds on the ground protest (the decidedly not tall green bird gets the last laugh, though, with a flashy tail display). In another story, a gatefold (and a bunch of balloons) help a nonflying penguin soar high, while, in the last entry, a flap makes two birds “up” in a tree come crashing down. Soothing pastel backgrounds focus attention on the action, while borscht-belt clowning by the birds provides plenty of visual humor. Small-scale but polished entertainment. Ages 4–7. (Feb.)