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*Telephone* by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace
Also by Mac Barnett:

Also illustrated by Jen Corace:

Little Oink

Little Hoot

Little Pea
by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace
Ages 3-6 40 pages Chronicle September 2014 Hardcover    

It’s dinnertime, and Peter the pigeon is on the other end of the telephone wires. His mother asks a young cardinal to relay the message: “Fly home for dinner.”

The cardinal obviously has baseball on his mind when she is talking. When he passes the message on to the Canada goose, he says, “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.” The goose turns his head and interrupts the ostrich who’s dusting while sitting on the same wire. “Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers.” As the message is passed along to seven other birds, it transforms into nonsensical gossip.

When Owl is told the message from the hysterical chicken, he thinks before he speaks, then passes along the obvious, original message to Peter. “You mom says fly home for dinner.” As Peter leaves the other ballplayers (penguins, and a flamingo) and flies home, the reader will see that the children who were playing below the telephone poles at the beginning of the story have all headed home for dinner, too.

Barnett’s (Extra Yarn) humorous story shows what can happen if you don’t listen or if you pass along incorrect information. Corace’s (illustrator of Little Pea) watercolor, ink, gouache, and pencil artwork adds to the humor because you don’t expect toucans, turkeys, ostriches and penguins to be sitting on a telephone wire.

She also gives the birds clever interests and personalities. The cardinal holds a bat (there is a baseball team named the Cardinals), and the Canada goose holds a map and wears pilot headgear (because they migrate).

After reading this story in class, teachers could play the “Telephone” game with their students and talk about how background noise, inattention, fear, and garbled messages (all shown in the story) can prevent clear communication. This is a picture book that both younger and older children can enjoy.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2015 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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