Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Flap! Flap! Flaps! UP! TALL! and HIGH! by Ethan Long


A clearly self-important green bird proudly boasts about his height until an even taller lavender bird walks on page, towers over him, and tells him so.

But both birds seem to have been topped by a third set of long bird legs. The two birds stare up and up and up, and the page turns to reveal a half-page gatefold revealing the third bird, actually quite squat in stature, standing on a very long pair of stilts. AHA! But before the tall two can protest, the short bird hops down, admits that he's not actually tall, but gets the last word as he spreads his very impressive tail to prove that he's can best them both in the horizontal department:


Artist-animator Ethan Long's 2013 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winning book, (for beginning reader books) Up, Tall and High (Putnam, 2013) takes on the task of explaining the difference between the related but not synonymous concepts of "up," "high," and "tall." You can be small and high, or tall and up, but not necessarily high (or at least not the highest!) and Long's three short stories, which add up to only 34 words in total, demonstrate these slightly different concepts through the use of opinionated birds and the use of half-page gatefold flaps which demonstrate the concept while provoking some chuckles at these boastful birds who are obviously high on themselves.

Great for toddlers just learning the fine points of language or for older emergent readers who will proudly read this book to themselves, Long's little linguistic lesson offers youngsters the sort of silly slapstick story preschoolers love. Or, as Publishers Weekly puts it ... "borscht-belt clowning by the birds provides plenty of visual humor."

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