CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 10. . . .November 8, 2013
Ten Birds Meet a Monster. (Ten Birds).
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Gregory Bryan & Kelsey Sukich.
The fourth bird, always attentive, joined in.
Together they became a Scaly Triple-Claw.
But the monster stayed put.
Cybčle Young’s newest book, Ten Birds Meet a Monster, is a worthy successor to the Governor General’s award-winning Ten Birds. In both books, Young’s birds are faced with a problem to overcome. Whereas in Ten Birds they needed to figure a way across a river, in Young’s latest work the birds are faced with the dilemma of a scary encounter with a seemingly hideous monster.
Both Ten Birds and Ten Birds Meet a Monster are counting books. For educational purposes, an interesting aspect of Ten Birds Meet a Monster is the use of terms such as “first bird”, “second bird”, and “third bird”. Parents and educators could use this book to teach counting and to teach about ordinal numbers.
Young’s monochromatic pen and ink artwork is highly detailed. The drawings are heavily textured and filled with action and movement. The shapes of the numerals are cleverly presented in illustrations of items of clothing scattered on the floor.
Written in the third person, Young’s vocabulary-expanding word choices add to the educative potential of this book. The various birds are described in such ways as “inventive”, “attentive”, “creative”, and “diligent”. Such descriptive word choices help to make the book interesting for young children and the adults with whom they might be sharing the reading experience. Children will be able to relate to the character traits of the birds. Similarly, they will be able to relate to the fear of facing the unknown—just what is it that lurks around the corner?
The birds attempt to dislodge the monster. They do so by combining and dressing up as what Young would have us believe are forms of dinosaurs—a Vicious Polka-dactyl, a Gnashing Grapplesaurus, and a Horrific Hooded-Smasher to name just three. Many children are fascinated by dinosaurs and will likely be entertained by the inventive creatures that have emerged through Young’s liberal use of her creative license.
Ten Birds Meet a Monster contains several themes that are important to children. These themes will further help them to relate to the text. Notions of imagination and creativity are at the forefront of Young’s work. Young also advocates appreciation of individual differences and the value of pooling those differences in cooperative and collaborative ways that are of benefit to the group.
Young’s unique imagination is reflected in both her text and her artwork for this book. It will be of appeal to readers whether learning or teaching about counting. Indeed, this book will appeal to anyone who simply wants to have an enjoyable reading experience with a counting book.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literacy education and literature for children.
Kelsey Sukich is a teacher candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. She hopes to become an early years French immersion teacher.
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