Sunday, November 03, 2013

Take a Number! The Long, Long Line by Tomoko Ohmura


An officious-looking bird tweets out a greeting at the end (or beginning) of a long line of animals, as Frog makes #50 in the wait queue.

"IT'S SO POPULAR!" puts in a perky squirrel (#45).

IT ALWAYS IS!" adds a turtle. (#44).

"WHAT'S THIS LINE FOR?" wonders a weasel (#42).

Whatever all these animals are waiting for, it must be good.  Armadillo (#39) perseveres as his long nose suffers from the stink of the skunk right in front of him, Raccoon and Fox amuse themselves by having a jumping contest as the other animals wager on the winner.  Further up the line, Beaver (#28) complains of the logjam.  Sheep (#23) is clearly the holdup, as she freezes in fear of the drooling wolf  (#22) who leers back at her hungrily. Up ahead, Panda (#17) starts the word chain game, and  Baby Joey (#19) in Mama Kanga's pouch, asks the inevitable question:


The animals get larger and larger as their wait numbers go down. Zebra (#8) quails at being bookended by predators Lion and Tiger, but he holds his place in line, until finally Elephant (#1) is seen at the head of the line.  What is this long wait for?

A surprise four-page gatefold reveals all the animals boarding the amusement park ride to end all rides, a big blue whale who gives them all the ride of their lives, with loop-the-loop leaps and deep water dives!

Author-illustrator Tomoko Ohmura offers a comical lesson in linear and numerical progression in his clever The Long, Long Line (OwlKids Books, 2013). Ohmura's mostly patient animals are named and numbered in descending order for plenty of incidental learning along the way, and humor and suspense builds with each skillfully-planned page turn until the surprise ride at the end makes it all worth while. It's a whale of a tale that kids will want to experience again and again.

"IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!" says Tapir.

"I'M GETTING BACK IN LINE!" replies Rhino.

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