cover image Armadillo Tattletale

Armadillo Tattletale

Helen Ketteman. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-99723-2

This pourquoi cum cautionary tale maintains that ""in the bare bones beginning, Armadillo's ears were as tall as a jackrabbit's."" Any time one prairie animal confides in another, Armadillo's burro-like listening devices can be seen protruding from a bush or desert rock, vibrating as they collect secret information. With an evident gleam in his squinty eyes, Armadillo then passes the hurtful news along. He doesn't desist until he tattles on Alligator, who ""nipped and snipped and clipped at Armadillo's ears until there was nothing left but tiny, teeny, itsy, weenie little ears."" Ketteman (Heat Wave) justifies the punishment by listing Armadillo's repeat offenses; each injured party throws ""one humongous hissy fit,"" and each embarrassed gossiper gives Armadillo ""the what-for and the how-come and the why-not,"" to no avail. Graves (Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance) provides earth-tone images of arid Texas grassland, populated by critters like Rattlesnake, Blue Jay and Muskrat. He styles the title character as an obsequious, elephant-gray coward, given to sniveling when confronted. Ketteman and Graves provide a comical folktale, especially relevant to little pitchers. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)