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Monday, July 4, 2011

KAZAAK! Written and illustrated by Sean Cassidy. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010. $18.95 ages 4 and up

""I'll KAZAAK it."
Rupert swings his
tail in a mighty arc.
He smashes into the root.
He smashes it again.
"Quills are the best!" he cheers."

Spike is a baby and not too impressed with the sharp quills that cover his body...their prickly ends get in the way and bother him. Rupert, his best friend, has a totally different view of those spiky things. He reminds the little one that they offer protection, and are not the same as claws and teeth. His reassurance doesn't work. So, he sets out to prove why quills are 'the best'. After all, they provide camouflage amongst the weeds that cover the forest floor. They 'spike' wild fruits and provide juice that is delicious to drink.  They even scare bears!

Rupert's demonstration involves a lot of KAZAAKing. Spike thinks he can smell Bear and has great concern that they are in danger. That sets Rupert on a quest to prove that the KAZAAK will have its intended result of filling Bear with fear and rendering him helpless in his quest for a delicious lunch.

On this day, Bear seems undeterred and in real need of something to fill his tummy. A prickly bit might be just what he needs. He is less intimidated when Rupert's KAZAAK provides a tickle rather than a sharp poke. It seems that Rupert's antics have rendered him 'quillless' and he no longer provides much of a threat.

Spike has an explanation about what lies beneath that makes sense to Bear. After all, when Bear sheds his long wintry coat in the spring, he knows that it will just grow again. Does that happen with porcupines, too?
And how quickly? It is enough to discourage the huge and hungry predator. Spike does have a treat, after all the grumbling, that gives he and Rupert a chance for a getaway...just in case.

We all have things to be thankful for, not the least of which is friendship. Spike and Rupert are great friends, loyal and trusting. I have loved other books by Sean Cassidy...please look him up! His funny, full of energy artwork add enjoyment to this tale of friendship, trickery and appreciating one's own special traits. Kids will love adding KAZAAK! to their vocabulary and then finding authentic ways to use it.

The author adds a nonfiction bit at the end which gives additional and useful information about the porcupine, while also providing step-by-step instructions for drawing one. A delightful addition to a home or classroom collection.

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