cover image Counting Feathers

Counting Feathers

Al Simmons. Longstreet Press, $10.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56352-440-0

Following in the footsteps of Tom Paxton and Raffi, among others, children's performer Simmons makes his picture-book debut by adapting the lyrics to one of his popular tunes. A bow-tie-clad child takes stock of his extensive feather collection by counting and sorting prized specimens. The project proves both fascinating and daunting as he remembers that ""every feather tells a story."" After counting one by one, two by two and four by four, a gale-force sneeze sends the inventory flying. Simmons honors many a flock of feathered friends by name (""Owl, eagle and chickadee;/ Swallow, grosbeak, raven wren,/ Bluebird, blackbird, ptarmigan""), and his jaunty sing-along style translates fluidly to a spirited read-aloud experience. Floca's cartoonish watercolors depict piles and piles of fluffy rainbow-hued plumage at every turn. His humorous scenes of elaborate forms of feather retrieval (from a beach, a zoo cage and apartment-building ledges) and the wild, head-over-heels sneeze will keep kids laughing. Aspiring birdwatchers will particularly appreciate the occasions when Floca depicts the bird alongside its feather. Books by two other well-loved children's performers are being simultaneously released: Proud by Fred Penner, illus. by Vickey Bolling; and Spider Dan by Norman B. Foote, illus. by Charlie Mitchell. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)