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'The Perfect Nest'          Send a link to a friend

[August 15, 2007]  "The Perfect Nest," by Catherine Friend, illustrated by John Manders, Candlewick Press, 2007, 32 pages, ages 3-9 years

Review by
Louella Moreland

It takes a lot to be perfect, and Catherine Friend's new picture book, "The Perfect Nest," definitely rates in that category. The premise is a simple one. Jack the Cat wants a perfect egg for an omelet. He comes up with a plan to attract a perfect chicken to lay that perfect egg. What better way to attract the perfect chicken than to build the perfect nest!

Jack builds the penthouse of nests, complete with fresh straw, pillows, Christmas lights, a fan and a "Welcome" mat. A dinner plate of corn is provided, of course. Jack becomes overjoyed when first a hen, then a duck and finally a goose all come along declaring his nest a work of art. The birds' characters are quickly defined as Ms. Friend uses Spanish, French and "down-home country" in the dialogue of each animal. Each fowl promptly claims the nest as her own, each laying a perfect egg, while squabbling about the ownership of this prime property.

Then Jack's plan begins to go awry. They won't leave! Therefore, he must come up with another plan to make the feathered women abandon the nest so that he may whip up that breakfast he has envisioned. The resulting antics and unexpected result will have readers laughing out loud. Children a bit squeamish about eating "babies" need not fear.

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The illustrations by John Manders are a "perfect" match to the story. Large two-page spreads covered in country yellows, oranges and browns are highlighted by John Deere greens and denim blues. The animals' popeyed faces are full of expression, action abounds, and humor erupts from the pages. Although simply drawn, the illustrations provide a wealth of detail that brings this funny story to life. Arrows point the way to the door of the barn, feathers fly as tempers flair, and Jack's disguises as he attempts to extricate the birds leave us delighting in the blend of illustration to text. Even the endpapers and back of the book share a part of the story. From sun up to sundown, life on the farm takes many unplanned twists.

The large, bold print and foreign expressions (that even a novice can accomplish) beg to be spoken out loud and shared with a little one. Take time to let this charming story envelop your senses and tickle your funny bone. "The Perfect Nest" should be on every reader's list for fall.

To check out this book or others about the farm, come see us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St. We will help you find a book that is "perfect" for you!

[Text from file received from Louella Moreland, youth services librarian, Lincoln Public Library District]

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