Tuesday, September 10, 2013

He Who Laughs Last....: AH HA! by Jeff Mack


It's a good rule, especially out there in the swamp, and, for sure, it's one this chubby little frog should keep in mind as he takes a flying leap onto that smooth, sun-warmed rock. A-A-A-H-H-H-H! A fine spot for an awesome amphibian nap!

Except there's a determined barefoot boy, hound dog pup at his heels, armed with a canning jar with its stout lid and gunning for a capture. Down it comes on Frog just as he stretches out to sleep. Clap! and Frog is a specimen--under glass!

"AH HA!"

But his pup cannot curb his enthusiasm and jumps up at the jar, causing the boy to let it slip, and Frog falls out, free as, well,... a frog, with an AHHHH! of relief. He leaps out over the water to a pale rock with dark spots and grins at the hapless boy on the shore!

But that rock is not what it seems.  It's a hungry turtle's back, and the snapper's chomper snakes back ready for a bite!  A-a-a-a-a-ahhhHH!

Frog launches himself forward onto what looks like some tall reeds near the cattails, sighs an a-a-a-hhh!,  just as Flamingo's business end, his beak, swivels around ready for a bite of  the frog on his leg with a triumphant HA! But Frog is already leaping away across the water, landing on what he believes is a lucky log.

By this point in the story, most savvy readers will KNOW that's no log at all. It's an alligator, aiming to munch a bunch of Frog for lunch. Frog needs to make the leap of his life, which lands him....

... well inside a nice, safe jar, as the boy fields the catch of his life!

There are yet more AAHHHs and AH HAs and one happy HA HA! ahead in this game of leapfrog before Frog gets that last laugh, in Jeff Mack's recent Ah Ha! (Chronicle Books, 2013). A charming tour de force of a text using words made up of just two letters in only three combinations, set off by beautifully composed illustrations which will have most youngsters leaping right in to read along with every novel page turn. This one is so much fun to read aloud that everyone (even the most early reader) will want a shot at putting  his or her own pizzazzy spin on those three words. As Publishers Weekly puts it, "... more than just a great script: it’s gorgeous, too, with lush and tightly composed images, hypersaturated colors, and textures reminiscent of midcentury printing."

Jeff Mack is also the author of the similarly styled Good News, Bad News (Chronicle, 2012).

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