Monday, January 21, 2008

Kersplatypus by Susan K. Mitchell, illustrated by Sherry Rogers

Kersplatypus by Susan K. Mitchell, illustrated by Sherry Rogers

On February 10th, Sylvan Dell is bringing us Kersplatypus, the story of a creature who appears in the Australian Outback after the big rains. The other animals, including Kookaburra, Wallaby, and Blue-Tongued Skink among many other animals indigenous to the Outback, have never seen a creature this before and have no idea what he is. Even the poor creature himself doesn't know, so they all set upon a mission to help him discover where he belongs. They first lead him to a tree, which he attempts to climb but falls down with a KERSPLAT! Determined to help him find his place, the animals go through a number of similar scenarios until, with the help of wise, old Bandicoot, he finally figures it out.

Susan K. Mitchell does an excellent job with characterization. Brushtail Possum is the nurturer of the group as she is the first to help the creature, and mischievous Blue-Tongued Skink reminds me of my little brother. We get a clear picture of his personality early on in the story when he first sees the creature, " 'You're the craziest looking thing I've ever seen,'… 'What are you supposed to be?'" Mitchell also does a great job of giving young readers interesting facts about Australian wildlife through her story without making it seem like they're being taught a lesson. Through the creature's attempts to find where he belongs, readers learn that possums live in trees, kookaburras fly, wallabies bounce high in the air, and much more.

Sherry Rogers' vivid and detailed illustrations perfectly complement the story and bring the characters to life. One of my favorite illustrations is the scene where Wallaby is bouncing in the air. Blue-Tongued Skink is lying on a rock, hands under his chin, with a grin on his face just waiting to see the creature go KERSPLAT!

Children, teachers, and parents will also enjoy the "For Creative Minds" section in the back of the book where there are a number of activities including more fun facts about the platypus and much more. Also, be sure to visit Sylvan Dell's website where you can find a multitude of learning links to learn even more about Australia and its creatures.

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