cover image I Was Born about 10,000 Years Ago: A Tall Tale

I Was Born about 10,000 Years Ago: A Tall Tale

Steven Kellogg. Morrow Junior Books, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13411-2

Adding comical original verse and ebullient full-page art, Kellogg creatively embellishes the titular traditional tall-tale tune to wreak playful havoc with a number of historical happenings. The author first introduces a gleeful, coon-cap-wearing young narrator, who declares that he was born about 10,000 years ago ""and there's nothing in the world that I don't know."" The clever lyrics go on to place him and four additional kids smack-dab in the middle of a host of momentous events, including that fateful bite from an apple (""I saw Adam and Eve driven from the door.../ And I swear that I'm the one who ate the core""); the construction of the pyramids (""And for Pharaoh's little kiddies/ I built all the pyramiddies""); and the settlement of the American West (""Pecos Bill and I drove cattle/ Clear from Texas to Seattle""). Giving this whirlwind romp a futuristic spin, Kellogg ends with one of his young characters stocking a Saturn-bound rocket with enough plates of food to last until her return--when school gets out in June. Dominated by his trademark fluorescent tones, Kellogg's illustrations feature funny details and pleasingly silly anachronisms: the Sphinx sports a striped tie and a matching birthday hat, and Pecos Bill's cattle clamber up Seattle's Space Needle. A concluding invitation to kids to devise their own rhyming tale that ""stretches"" the truth makes this bouncy read-aloud doubly fitting for classroom use. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)