Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend illustrated by John Manders

Text copyright © 2007 by Catherine Friend
Illustrations copyright © 2007 by John Manders

Jack the cat has a hankering for an omelet, but he lacks the essential ingredient -  an egg.  He decides to build a very enticing nest so that he can lure an unsuspecting bird in to lay an egg. Oh what a fine nest, Jack builds. He pilfers supplies from all around the farm.  He builds a ramp leading to the nest with a welcome mat at the foot and sets out corn as bait.  All he has to do is wait.
Jack’s hard work is rewarded in short order.  A chicken walks by and sees the nest, “Caramba! A perfect nest.” She climbs into it and lays a small egg. A duck waddles by and sees the nest, “Sacre bleu! Zee perfect nest.” She shoves the chicken off the nest, then she lays a medium sized egg.  A  goose then strolls by, “Great balls of fire! A perfect nest.” She kicks the duck out of the nest and lays a large egg.
Jack begins licking his chops. His plan is a success: there are even more eggs than Jack anticipated. But alas, it turns out, the nest is too perfect -- none of the birds will leave it.  All three fowl stay in the nest squabbling and jostling each other and trying to force the others out.  Jack attempts to get them to scram, crying  "Fire!" then "Flood!, then "Wolf!"  But it is all for naught, because they refuse to budge.
After several days, an exasperated Jack proclaims that a neighboring farm has an even better nest that is empty.  All three birds immediately abandon the perfect nest and depart for the next farm, leaving their eggs behind.  At last Jack can prepare his omelet, but so much time has elapsed that the eggs begin to hatch.  Jack being the first thing they see, the hatchlings imprint on him. “Hola, Mama," "Bonjour, Maman," and "Howdy, Ma" say the chick, duckling and gosling respectively to Jack.  They immediately plead to be dried, fed and played with. Jack, horrified by the demanding babies, tries to ditch them but they find him each time and drag him back to the nest.
Finally when the birds tell him they are tired and cold, Jack’s compassion overcomes his appetite and he climbs into the nest with all three nestled next to him. It is then that he realizes - he really does have the perfect nest.

The kids will enjoy hearing you speak with Spanish, French and colloquial English accents for the different birds and will eagerly join in.  Unfortunately, this behavior will carry over after the story ends and your children will begin yelling out “Sacre bleu”, “Caramba”, or “Great balls of fire” at the most inopportune times:-)  Or as my two years old pronounces it, “Sakay burr.” Every single one of Mander’s illustrations will make you laugh out loud because of  Jack's facial expressions - the anticipation when he first builds his nest, the glee when the eggs are laid, the horror and disappointment when the eggs hatch.  All that is, except for the last two illustrations, which will simply make you say, “Awwww.”  Funny and sweet!

No comments:

Post a Comment