cover image Shh! We Have a Plan

Shh! We Have a Plan

Chris Haughton. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7293-5

Three hunters with nets trudge through a deep forest of violets and blues, their wide eyes unblinking in the gloom. They’re comically small and troll-like, and they’re trailed by a fourth companion who’s even stumpier. The hunters spot an exquisite scarlet bird. “Hello, birdie,” says the smallest hunter, prompting hushes from his companions, who tell him, “We have a plan.” The three hunters tiptoe forward, nets ready, but fall over each other like the Keystone Kops when they pounce. The bird sails off, undisturbed, and the pattern of greeting, hushing, and pouncing repeats with equally slapstick results. Big, blocky shapes and intense hues make the action simple to follow, and Haughton’s (Oh No, George!) text is similarly telegraphic. Eventually, the bird flies toward the littlest hunter after being offered a bit of bread, a flock of phantasmagorically colored birds gathers, and the hunters get their comeuppance. The delicious stupidity of the hunting trio, the purity of heart of their small companion, and the sweet-tempered drama of each page turn make this a classic exercise in picture-book making. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)