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Review of Shh! We Have a Plan

haughton_shh-we-have-a-planstar2 Shh! We Have a Plan
by Chris Haughton; illus. by the author
Preschool    Candlewick    40 pp.
9/14    978-0-7636-7293-5    $15.99

With cover art recalling Ungerer’s The Three Robbers (rev. 6/62) and the wry sensibility of Klassen’s Hat books, this is a natural choice for any storytime. A spare, humorous text pairs with blocky digital illustrations to tell the story of four companions (three of them outfitted with nets) out hunting in the woods; there they spy a bird, its vibrant red plumage interrupting the controlled palette of blue shades. The three larger hunters shush their smallest, netless cohort when he calls out, “Hello birdie.” “We have a plan,” they admonish him. Subsequent bird-catching attempts stretch out over page turns to enhance the slapstick humor of the hunters’ pratfalls. The littlest one, persistent in his ongoing attempts to make contact with the bird, acts on the adage that it’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar — or in this case, with crumbs rather than nets. Indeed, not only does that first red bird fly to his outstretched hand, a flock of multicolored birds assembles, making good on the book’s front-matter epigraph from Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” The avian peaceable kingdom is short-lived, however, when the three hunters reappear with their nets — they clearly haven’t absorbed the little one’s ethos. The birds chase them away, but the closing spread — “LOOK! a squirrel”—humorously underscores their failure to learn from their small friend. Plan on repeat readings.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Megan Dowd Lambert About Megan Dowd Lambert

Megan Dowd Lambert is an instructor at Simmons College’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. For nearly ten years she also worked in the education department of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

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