Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kersplatypus by Susan K. Mitchell

Kersplatypus by Susan K. Mitchell
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Sylvan Dell
Publication Date: February 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1934359075

Have you ever felt out of place, not really knowing how you got where you are or where you belong? If so, you'll quickly be able to relate to the main character in this darling picture book from Sylvan Dell. Kersplatypus is the tale of a young Platypus who finds himself washed away from his mother during a big Australian rain. When he settles he finds himself surrounded by lots of strange creatures all of which are just as confused about him as he is about them.

Poor little Platypus doesn't know what kind of animal he is, but the other outback animals are determined to help this little fellow figure out what exactly he is and where he belongs. The Brushtail Possum finds a similarity between herself and the creature, and concludes he must belong in a tree. But when the little Platypus is unsuccessful in climbing after the Possum he slips... KERSPLAT! Next he attempts to fly like the Kookaburra, yet again he's met with defeat. KERSPLAT! Over and over again, the little Platypus strives to prove he can keep up with the animals and that he truly does belong. Time and time again his efforts are unsuccessful. He is similar to all of them in a way, but he isn't exactly like any of the Outback animals. It's this realization that breaks the little Platypus's heart and brings tears to his eyes.

When finally wise Old Bandicoot happens by he is able to once and for all put a name to the fuzzy duck looking creature. He is a Platypus. Unfortunately though, this is where Old Bandicoot's knowledge stops. He knows what the lost creature is, but not where he belongs. Picking up on the opportunity for a fun play on words, Blue Tongued Skink contrives the nickname Kersplatypus for his new furry friend. Since with every attempt he made to follow in the steps of one of the other creatues he ended up going "KERSPLAT!" it seems an all too fitting name.

Soon after, Kersplatypus sets out on a walkabout to try to help himself recall something- anything- about where he belongs. And it doesn't take long before our dear little Kersplatypus finds the water and senses home.

Children will love this sweet story, and undoubtedly will ask you to read it over and over again. If not for the story itself then for the cute illustrations by Sherry Rogers. (The page with the Platypus crying is just absolutely adorable. He looks so sad and helpless. :( ) Each one is done impressively, and the animals seem to come alive on the pages.

Parents/Educators will love it not only because it is a fun story in general, but because it will lead its readers to to recognize and accept diversity. Opening young reader's eyes to the wildlife in another place (This of course only applies if you don't live in Australia.) will encourage and inspire them to learn more. There is also a "Creative Minds" section at the back of the book that allows readers to learn more fun facts about the Platypus. There's an activity page and short quiz where they can learn more about each of the Outback animals featured in the story. There's a section where the author discusses animal classifcation (plants, animals, mammal, reptile, etc), and then gives the reader a chance to try his or her own hand at classifying the animals from the story. Since the story itself tied this in through the other animals trying to figure out what kind of animal Platypus is, I think this is a really neat feature. Last but not least, there is also a short question section that inspires the reader to consider the story, and to do so on a level of "Bully vs Friend". I think this is a great way to encourage conversation with young readers to help them learn basic social skills, and to help reinforce the age old idea of treating others like you'd like to be treated.

(Thanks to Sara at Sylvan Dell for this wonderful review opportunity.)

OUR RATING: 5 hearts


Anonymous said...

Whoa! Now THAT'S an amazing review, Rebekah! Thank you so much for supporting Sylvan Dell and our authors and illustrators!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Rebekah! I am so honored that you liked the book I illustrated, especially the page where he cries. I really wanted to capture the heart felt misery of teasing.

I am about to post on my blog and point to this review.

This means a great deal to me. Thanks again!