Monday, April 06, 2009

Try to See It My Way! Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Optical illusions are captivating to children, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal's just published picture book Duck! Rabbit! (Chronicle, 2009) relies on one basic black-line drawing--a doppelganger of a creature which is seen differently by two kids--as a long-eared rabbit or a long-billed duck.

"Hey, look! A duck!"

"That's not a duck! That's a rabbit."

"Are you kidding me? It's totally a duck."

"It's for sure a rabbit!"

The kids are sure they hear a quack-quack duck sound or a sniff-sniff rabbit sound. Then the first kid sees the duck go for a stroll through tall swamp reeds, while the second one is sure he's seeing a rabbit, hiding in the grass. When the first kid sees some movement, he's sure the duck is flying, but the second kid sees the rabbit's ears jiggling as he hops away. Even binoculars don't resolve the conflict!

But just as each kid begins to see the animal from the other's viewpoint, the mystery animal disappears from view.

"Now what do want to do?" one asks.

"I don't know. What do you want to do?"

"Hey, look! An anteater!!"

"That's no anteater! That's a brachiosaurus!"

Illustrator Tom Lichtenfeld makes the most of his simple line drawings and page design to build a bit of playful suspense with his two-faced beasts. (In a cute bit of trompe l'oeil art, Lichtenfeld even turns the back cover barcodes into a stripey zebra.) This is a book which needs to be seen to be appreciated, and, SURPRISE! The publisher has thoughtfully provided us with a short trailer which does just that, to be seen here.

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