cover image Chicken Cheeks

Chicken Cheeks

Michael Ian Black, , illus. by Kevin Hawkes. . Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-4864-3

A bear's inspired idea to create a tower of animals in order to reach some honey is all the premise that Hawkes (Library Lion ) and debut author Black need to launch an encyclopedia of animal posteriors. As the tower grows, readers learn that, in Hawkes and Black's alternative universe, a duck's rear end may be a tail, but a moose has a caboose, a turkey has a tushy, and a toucan a can. Hawkes's cast runs the gamut of goofy expressions; this smorgasbord of demeanors, coupled with the sheer improbability of the tower (the rhinoceros and giraffe are stacked upside-down on top of a very spindly flamingo), make this a surefire crowd-pleaser. The tower is finally undone by the stinger on a bumblebee, but not before readers' vocabularies have been boosted by 16 ways to refer to buttocks. And if that's not an example of literature enriching our lives, what is? Ages 3–7. (Jan.)