Wednesday, September 29

Round Robin

by Jack Kent
Prentice Hall 1982

A baby bird becomes so focused on eating it cannot fly south for the winter and is forced to walk the entire way.  In doing so there are some unintended consequences, both good and bad.

Last week when I reviewed Hoddy Doddy I felt like I wanted to give Kent another chance.  I thought maybe I was looking too closely, maybe I caught the one book of his that rubbed me wrong, and since there were plenty of books to check out I thought I'd give him another go.

Unintentionally, I think this book was ahead of its time.

Among the baby robins born there is this one who just loves to eat.  And eat.  And eventually becomes so rotund that the only way it can get around is by walking everywhere.  Come winter, when everyone else is flying south, the poor bird can only trudge along through the snow and rain.  By the time it catches up with the rest of the flock the robin is back to its normal size, slimmed by the exercise of walking. And so, in celebration, it eats.  And gets round again, just in time to fly north for the summer.  Except for the poor robin who is now faced with the prospect of having to walk all the way again. 

An analogy for our consumerist ways, a satire on the dieting mentality, or simply a foreshadowing of the obesity epidemic in the United States?  You decide. 

And you have to decide for yourself because Kent doesn't make it an issue beyond the fact that the poor bird can't fly.  The other birds don't judge robin for being what it is, so on the one hand it can be about acceptance.  Then again, if you're presenting the book to a child and telling them that people will accept you for who you are no matter what, well, that's one of those adult "lessons" that has a funny way of coming back to bite.

Once again, Kent's illustrations are simple, clean, and charming. Like cross between Charly Harper and Ed Emberly, all bold colors and simple outlines.  I'm going to give this one a thumb's up and maybe check out one more Jack Kent book to give it the two-out-of-three final verdict.

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