It is not often that I review picture books these days, but sometimes the stars align such that it happens. On Monday I had the very great pleasure of visiting Candlewick up in Boston, and meeting author and illustrator Chris Haughton (in town on his way to accept the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award), and coming home with a copy of his most recent book--Shh! We Have a Plan (thank you Candlewick!).
This is the sort of picture book that almost makes me wish I had small children around again, because it would be so much fun to share it with them. Four wooly-hatted persons are off on a bird hunt, three taking it seriously, the fourth and smallest delighting more in simply seeing the colorful birdy! The organized efforts to hunt all go wrong (amusingly), and finally fourth person uses crumbs to lure the birdies to him...and lots of birdies, both small ones, and ones alarmingly large and beaky, arrive! No more bird hunting (too scary!). But undeterred, the hunters see a new target--a squirrel!
The birds (and squirrel) provide the only bits of color, but the hunters and their dark landscape are rendered in so lively a way in their dark background that there's plenty of visual interest. And I know it works well as a read-aloud, because Chris himself read it to us, and it was much enjoyed.
Here's an interview Chris did for the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.