________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006


I Can, You Can, Toucan! (Green Bananas).

Sue Mayfield. Illustrated by Rochelle Padua.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2006.
48 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.16 (pbk.), $18.36 (RLB).
ISBN 0-7787-1048-3 (pbk.), ISBN 0-7787-1032-7 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Individuality-Juvenile fiction.
Toucans-Juvenile fiction.
Giraffe-Juvenile fiction.
Penguins-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4


Penguin can swim very fast. She can even swim underwater like a fish. In no time at all she brings the soccer ball back to Giraffe and Toucan.

According to the publisher, the books in the “Green Bananas” series are directed at children ages 4-6 and have a reading level of Kindergarten through grade 1. I Can, You Can, Toucan! consists of three brief stories involving a penguin, a giraffe, and the title's Toucan, who all perceive themselves to be deficient in some way, but who then turn their supposed “fault” into an asset, thereby showing that all three can.

     In the opening tale, “Too Tall,” when Giraffe bangs his head on the bar holding the swings in the park and then can't get through the door of Toucan's house, he is told by his two friends that “You're too tall.” People don't want to sit behind Giraffe at the movies because of his height. However, when Penguin's kite is caught high up in a tree and the gusty winds prevent Toucan from flying high enough, Penguin is happy that Giraffe's height allows him to easily retrieve the kite.

     The second story, “I Can Fly,” features Penguin who wants to fly like Toucan can; however, Penguin's stubby wings keep her firmly earthbound no matter what strategies her friends suggest to get her airborne. When Giraffe and Toucan engage Penguin in a game of soccer to cheer her up, the ball accidentally gets kicked into the river, and Penguin uses her swimming skills to retrieve it.

     In the final story offering, “Big Yellow Beak,” Toucan is teased by the other birds about his bright yellow beak, and he wishes that he had a gray or black beak like the other birds so that they wouldn't call him “Banana beak!” When Penguin and Giraffe go for a walk, Toucan refuses to join them, saying, “People will see me and laugh.” The pair walk so far that night falls, and they are lost. A worried Toucan goes in search of them, and Giraffe spots Toucan's bright yellow beak in the darkness. In a scene reminiscent of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Toucan, with his beak so bright, guides his friends home.

     Padua's bright, cartoon-like illustrations are a perfect match for the trio of stories. Not only do they capture the changing emotions of the three friends, but they are sufficiently detailed that a nonreader, by simply looking at the illustrations, will be able to tell the stories likely after hearing them read just one. While the main text carries the storyline, Padua supplies brief speech balloons which add further dimensions to the story. For example, when Toucan, in the main text, says, “I wish my beak was gray or black like other birds,” a speech balloon above Giraffe's head reads, “I like your beak!”

     With its message of “make the most of what you've got,” I Can, You Can, Toucan! is a good purchase for kindergartens and home collections as well as public libraries serving the preschool crowd.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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