January 31, 2015

One Hungry Heron

by Carolyn Beck
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 3+
October 2014

If you're fortunate to have a cottage near water or access to a marshy area or pond, One Hungry Heron should accompany you and your littlest ones on your next trek there in off-winter seasons.  Carolyn Beck's newest book, expertly illustrated by Karen Patkau who excels at capturing the natural world in digitally-created collages, helps guide the eyes of children who are learning their numbers to see the heron, catfish, dragonflies, beavers, water walkers, snakes, frogs, snails, ducks and turtles and their interactions across the pond.

Carolyn Beck uses rhyming text to count each animal, from the solitary heron amongst the cattails to the ten tiny turtles on a log, as well as using evocative descriptors and action words to lend texture to each animal's double-spread.
Nine paddly ducks
dabble in the reeds.
They flap and quack
and snack on weeds.
(pg. 20)
Although One Hungry Heron is a counting book, for numbers 1 through 10, there's a complete turnaround when the rain comes, and zero is introduced, with the assortment of animals amalgamated in a final image.

Coupled with the distinct textures and subtle colours within the vegetation, water and substrates of Karen Patkau's collages, One Hungry Heron is a fluid visual and auditory composition linking outdoor scenes familiar to many Canadians with basic counting by one's, forwards and back. 

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