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"WORD NUMBER 1: Bird. / The bird sits on the table." A modest start, perhaps, but the gorgeous, Matisse-like, gelato-colored spread drips in mystery. The table legs, for example, are sprouting leaves. "WORD NUMBER 2: Despondent." Poor bird. She's now standing atop Mushy Peas, next to a Kafka book. Happily, she finds cake, which is WORD NUMBER 3. The story--and it is actually a winsome story of friendship--proceeds thus, with a Snicketian 13 words in all, including 4) dog (who wants to cheer up his feathered friend, probably with a hat); 5) busy; 6) convertible; 7) goat; 8) hat; 9) haberdashery; 10) scarlet; 11) baby; 12) panache; and 13) mezzo-soprano. Snicket and Kalman are perfectly matched here, both revelers in life's delicious (mmm... cake) details and things best left unexplained... such as why the bird has to paint 11 ladders in ten colors, why the scarlet-doored haberdashery's owner is a baby and why the bird never stops feeling despondent, despite her new hat that has so very much panache. This charming chef-d'oeuvre sings like a mezzo-soprano. (Picture book. 3-10)