Johansen and Bhend (Henrietta and the Golden Eggs) here stage a debate between a waterfowl and a nocturnal predator. Four wordless double-page illustrations, which look like etchings or fine-line pen-and-ink stippling, introduce the protagonists in their natural habitats. The duck paddles in a wooded glade, then flaps away as bossy swans approach; the owl snuggles in a hollow tree, then aggressively confronts five crows. The woodland atmosphere is disrupted, however, when the duck opens a flirty dialogue with its natural enemy: "Hey, you up there!" she calls to the drowsy owl napping in a birch tree. The duck and owl soon find they have little in common. "You're supposed to sleep at night," the duck argues. "No way!" replies the owl. "It's much too exciting/ to sleep at night/ when it's really dark,/ when you can.../ .../ wait/ for something good to eat/ to come by." The duck expresses disgust that the owl eats mice, the owl criticizes the duck's bobbing for food and the duck attempts to perch in a tree despite her webbed feet. Their disagreements devolve into repetitive, childish bickering ("I didn't start it, you did!"/ "No you did!"), which fits awkwardly with the delicate drawings and the elegantly designed, small-format book itself. Bhend's harmonious illustrations acknowledge actual wildlife: a bird brings worms to its chicks, a snake swallows a frog and an egret stalks the snake. Johansen's cartoonish conversation ill suits the naturalistic imagery, and the text never quite finds its balance. Ages 5-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A duck in a sparkling pond meets an owl in a birch tree. Though they try to get along, each one is repeatedly annoyed by the other's perplexing habits. "You eat weeds from the bottom of the pond? Revolting!...And how can anyone eat in the middle of the day, anyway?" There's not much to the plot besides the two arguing and making up, but the voice, even in translation, is full of character (reminiscent of the duck and the bird's quarrel in Peter and the Wolf), and the finely detailed, black-and-white drawings are full of other creatures and invite close perusal. The creators of Henrietta and the Golden Egg (Godine, 2002) have crafted a simple, elegant, and beguiling story for early readers or family sharing.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Two birds residing in the same meadow take a rather neurotic stab at friendship in this Swiss import. In a text heavy with dialogue and a bit choppy in translation, a duck and an owl bicker-about the best time of day to sleep, what to eat, who starts the arguments and more. There are brief truces and even the occasional compliment, but this duo can't seem to resist taking potshots at each other's lifestyle, even as they learn the details for the first time. The nattering pairs a bit oddly with Bhend's lovely, meticulously rendered naturalistic ink drawings. The text suggests squawky, feather-flying movement, but Bhend answers with quiet, minutely detailed compositions. Indeed, the illustrations so teem with interesting details (a snake's body bulging with its latest meal, a seven-legged spider, the tiny bones at the base of the owl's tree), that observant children might prefer poring over the book to hearing it read aloud. There's a resolution of sorts-"See you again soon," says the owl, dozing into his much-needed day's sleep-but one doesn't hold out much hope for the relationship. (Picture book. 4-8)