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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hungry Bird, written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard. Scholastic, 2016. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Bird's tummy rumbled louder. "Hey, Beaver," said Bird. "Have you brought anything delicious to eat? I'm hungry." "I have lots of nice, crunchy sticks," said Beaver. "Would you like some?" "Stick?" said Bird. "Are you crazy? Birds don't eat sticks!" "Well, beavers do. Yum!" said Beaver."

He's back ... and this time he is neither Grumpy nor Weepy. He is HUNGRY! Imagine going on a trek with friends and no one thought to bring him the perfect snack. What were they thinking when they set out? Seems they were thinking about their own snacks, and perhaps Hungry Bird ought to have done the same!

Each of his animal friends did bring a snack that they themselves would enjoy; that was their pre-trek responsibility. As they volunteer to share what they have, the bird just becomes more and more adamant that he has no interest in their berries, grass, sandwiches, carrots and crunch sticks. Not one of those holds any appeal for his growling stomach or his wish to assuage his hunger. They walk on, he continues to complain. High drama sets in, and he is left behind when he collapses to the ground in the agony of hunger pangs. He drags himself to where they are sitting having a snack. Finally, he gives in and tries what his friends have packed.  Surprise!

Oh, I do love Bird although he gives his friends a run for their money at every turn. In this, his third book, he remains true to the original ... often obstreperous and grumpy as are the toddlers sure to love hearing this new book. Tankard's expressive text is filled with important words - ravenous, disgusting, medley of flavors, collapsed - all inviting conversation between reader and listener as they share this delightful tale of friendship and adventure.

Jeremy Tankard's signature ink and digital media images are bold and engaging. Children who are familiar with his earlier stories will recognize old friends and welcome them back. I love the way he uses color to convey growing irritability as Bird's drama reaches fever pitch. The expressive faces will have little ones understanding exactly how Bird's friends feel as they do their best to appease him.

Humorous and highly entertaining, this is a stellar read aloud for any story time with little ones.

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