cover image Stinkbird Has a Superpower

Stinkbird Has a Superpower

Jill Esbaum, illus. by Bob Shea. Putnam, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-52952-2

As the title of this effusive factual accounting promises, the Amazonian hoatzin—also known as the stinkbird—does have a superpower of sorts. But that power is not, as gaudily orange, pheasant-esque Papa Hoatzin explains to his purple chick, “MY POOPY SMELL!” (even though the quality is super effective at warding off predators). Parent-chick banter from Esbaum (Frog Boots) continues to explore potential superpowers, including hoatzins’ precarious nests, in branches that extend over water. This placement allows the chicks, who lack adult birds’ fetid odor, to easily swim underwater to escape predators. (“Food? I’m food?!” the chick says tearfully before successfully taking a plunge.) At last, the real superpower is revealed: young hoatzins have claws on their wings that allow them to climb trees back into the nest, “like little acrobats.” Peppy, unmistakably fact-forward text gets plenty of zhuzh via digital images by Shea (I Am a Baby). Flat, tropical colors and layers of leaves convey the rainforest’s lushness while providing a suitably theatrical backdrop for an idiosyncratic family’s celebration of pride. Facts conclude. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)