cover image Ten Birds

Ten Birds

Cyb%C3%A8le Young. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-568-2

Ten black birds appear on a winter night on a snowy riverbank; they are "trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the river." There's a bridge in plain view, but they appear not to see it. Nine birds use the fantastic arrangements of wood, string, hardware, pulleys, and fans standing on the riverbank to cross the river. The contraptions are shaped like the numbers one through 10; each bird reassembles its contraption into something new. One turns the wooden number "9" into a pair of stilts: "The one they called %E2%80%98Brilliant' knew how to cross. Marching, he left NINE behind." The next uses the 8-shaped pair of wheels to build a water-paddled unicycle: "The one they called %E2%80%98Quite Advanced' engineered her way." Only the last bird does the obvious thing and plods across the bridge; ironically, his name is "Needs Improvement." Young's (Jack Pine) meticulously drafted pen-and-ink artwork, reminiscent of M.C. Escher, grabs most of the attention, while the message about the clearest solution being the best one is somewhat blunted by the wonderfully creative and complex alternatives she invents. All ages. (Mar.)