Splatypus, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, published by Two Lions, ISBN: 978-1503939202.
As a kid who grew up on Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd movies and Bugs Bunny cartoons, I do love me some slapstick. Pulling off physical humor can be a daunting task, and I applaud any picture book that brings on the funny. Illustrator Jackie Urbanovic has proven time and time again in her work (especially in Duck at the Door) that she has mastered the art of slapstick. She excels at drawing wildly expressive characters with comically flexible bodies. Match her art with the kind of rollicking text Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen provides in Splatypus and you end up with a romp perfect for energetic interactive story times. Of course, tucked in between the pratfalls, trips, and stumbles, as well as the audience participation ready sound effects, is a heartwarming tale about finding your place in the world. There are even moments of melancholy and loneliness along the way as platypus struggles to emulate the movements of each character he meets (kangaroos, dingoes, possums, fruit bats). Every attempt at hopping, running wildly, climbing a tree, or flying results in poor platypus crashing to the ground. The word “SPLATYPUS” fills the page as our poor hero looks dazed. Bardhan-Quallen’s bouncy, simple rhymes keep young readers engaged, wondering will platypus find happiness? I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that the title wonderfully takes on a whole new meaning. Sometimes being a splatypus rocks!