Monday, July 23, 2012

EXCEPT IF by Jim Averbeck

Averbeck, Jim. Except If. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon and Schuster), 2011. ISBN: 9781416995449. $12.99 Ages: 2-6

It all begins with a pale blue egg just starting to crack open. Except If establishes that an egg is not a baby bird, but it will become one, except if it becomes something else. Perhaps the egg will hatch a snake, or perhaps a baby lizard, or maybe even a dinosaur. After this point, the story comes full circle as we imagine that not only might the egg turn into a dinosaur, it might turn into a fossilized dinosaur. This fossilized dinosaur’s jaws eventually form a craggy cliff, which might house a soft nest, which in spring just might hold a pale blue egg, “which will not necessarily become a baby bird—except if it does.”

Jim Averbeck’s book is a playful and colorful diversion into an “except if“ world of imagination. The words “except if” are written in bold letters and fill several alternating pages as the story moves into its next evolution. The illustrations are colorful but not garishly bright. One of my favorite illustrations was the baby lizard scurrying up a wall on sticky feet to eat flies. The most enjoyable illustration, however, is the red little bedraggled bird that shows that a pale blue egg will not necessarily become a baby bird except if it does.

Stephanie Ashley

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