Birding! Shhh! We Have A Plan by Chris Haughton
"LOOK! A BIRD!"
Four bird stalkers set out into deep woods. Stair-stepped in size, dressed in ninja colors, the bigger three with nets and one concealing a birdcage under his cloak, they tromp single file, until their leader spots their quarry, an eye-catching red-feathered beauty.
"HELLO, BIRDIE!" PIPES THE LITTLE ONE.
"SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN!
READY ONE? READY TWO? READY, THREE!"
Nets at the ready, the hunters charge. The bird blasts off and the three fall all over each other. But they don't give up, and with another bird in view, the stealthy three replay the same scene, with the same shushing, the same countdown, and the same results.
They have a plan--just not a very good one. But the least one seems to know the adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar. As the crestfallen hunters haplessly watch from a distance, he pulls out some bread and begins to scatter crumbs on the ground. Not only does his "birdie" land at his feet, but he is soon surrounded by a flock of gorgeously-plumaged birds.
Now the gang of three make their big move. But the birds are having none of it this time, flocking together in formation to chase them away. They flee, stumbling over each other in disarray, like the Three Stooges. Dejectedly, they slog toward home until suddenly they spot a squirrel.
"SHH! I HAVE A PLAN...."
"If at first you don't succeed, get a better plan" is the theme of Chris Haughton's latest, Shh! We Have a Plan (Irma S and James H Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature (Awards)) (Candlewick Press, 2015). Haughton's ironic slapstick humor and a minimalist text that quickly becomes a refrain for young readers tell his bird-napping tale well, but his lovely blue-on-blue nighttime forest with his droll deep-blue characters and glowingly bright birds is an even greater delight for the eye. Haughton's digital art mimics cut-paper illustrations in a little gem of the picture book genre. "A masterful delight, this crafty caper has huge kid appeal and a title/refrain that will easily sneak into the family lexicon: 'Shh! We have a plan,'" says School Library Journal.