cover image Burton and Stanley

Burton and Stanley

Frank O'Rourke. David R. Godine Publisher, $15.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-87923-824-7

This inventive and quixotic yarn stars two unlikely but captivating heroes: a pair of marabou storks (appropriately named for explorers), who in 1935 are blown 7000 miles from Kenya to a quiet railroad depot in Nebraska. Their presence brings joy to the town's children, but winter approaches; how are they to return home? Fortunately these resourceful avians can clatter their beaks in Morse Code to communicate with Mr. Kraft, the town's sympathetic telegraph operator. With his aid they escape the clutches of two State Fish and Game officials and, after flying south to New Orleans, secure passage on a ship bound for Africa. O'Rourke seasons his children's book debut with absorbing details of trains and telegraphy--suiting a nostalgic tale that harks back to the simpler world of such classics as Stuart Little. Equally well-suited are Allen's drawings--his lugubrious, slightly untidy birds with curiously human features are as apt as his title character in The Great White Man-Eating Shark. In all, a thoroughly warmhearted and rather touching entertainment. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)