cover image Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes

Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes

Laurie Lawlor, , illus. by Ethan Long. . Holiday House, $16.95 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-2229-6

Lawlor’s (The School at Crooked Creek ) collection of regional American expressions will remind readers that not everyone speaks like a newscaster and that American English once had real character. There are enough similes here to smother a cow: “Ugly as a mud fence dabbed over with toad frogs,” “Lazy as a hound that leans against the fence to bark” and “Gritty as fish eggs rolled in sand,” to name a few. A definition of simile is found on the copyright page, and each one is defined (“Gritty as fish eggs” is a “cowboy’s definition of a brave person”). Arranged in alphabetical order, the similes, most of which hail from Appalachia, are illustrated by Long (Tickle the Duck! ) with big, flat-perspective spreads peopled by characters with googly eyes and goofy expressions. Most are unfortunately literal-minded, illustrating the expression itself and not a situation in which the simile might have been used. But they help make the more opaque expressions clear and should draw giggles. A good start for an English lesson about adding color to one’s writing. Ages 6–10. (Mar.)