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Feb 2005
Issue 057

Out now!


I, Mallard

Title: 10 Little Rubber Ducks
Author: Eric Carle • Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: ¥2,835 • ISBN: 0-06-074075-2

Eric Carle, the author and illustrator of this colourful story for pre-schoolers, got the idea for it from an article he read in the paper. Apparently, 29,000 bathtub toys fell off a container ship in the Bering Sea in 1992. They've been turning up all over the
world ever since. He took it from there.

Carle pared the cast down to ten rubber ducks and went to work plotting all their journeys. The book has something in it for any child, aged 2 to 6. The pictures alone, a mixture of paint and collage, will please all ages. The pictures can stand up on their own, but each page includes enough simple prose to help Mum or Dad along on those less-imaginative evenings.

Kids also learn counting (to ten, which was all I needed at that age, I think), and are introduced to sea animals from all points of the compass.With the whales and flamingos and pelicans comes a subtle geography lesson as well.

The tenth rubber duck, after drifting aimlessly about, even ends up being adopted by a family of real ducklings (leading to the only sound effect in the book, which I won't reveal for fear of spoiling it for any two-year-olds who might be reading Kansai Scene).

Keep Young and Beautiful
(if you want to be loved)

Title: The Hunted
Author: Alex Shearer • Publisher: Macmillan
Price: ¥1,218 • ISBN: 0-330-43190

In a very Britain-like place, somewhere in the future, the problems of aging and overpopulation have been scientifically solved. In this world, people can live to be nearly 200, while looking no older than 40. They are, however, due to strong anti-aging drugs and mutated viruses brought on by such unprecede-nted longevity, mostly sterile. But everyone looks fabulous!

While this might sound like bliss to some readers, most people in this world are bored out of their minds. Because of their rarity, children have attained sentimentalized, mythic status. The "lucky" ones are purchased by the rich, as status symbols. Some youths long ago opted for a procedure called "the PP" (for Peter Pan), which keeps you looking like a child for the rest of your life. Such "kids" make their living being rented out by the hour to lonely couples by their (often chronologically younger) adult minders.

All this is shown from the point of view of Tarrin, an actual child and thus highly-prized. He's not quite a teenager and is under constant pressure from his minder, Deet (an excellent character, albeit a sleaze of the first order), to go for the PP before it's too late. Tarrin has never known his real parents or how he got to be born at all (Deet won him in a card game). He wants to grow up, even though the minute he gets too tall, his status will evaporate. There is always the danger too that he'll be "kiddernapped," given the PP anyway, and put to work for someone even less scrupulous than the perpetually broke Deet. And, inevitably, he tries to escape from it all.

This is marketed as a book for teenagers, but it's seldom I read any fiction this good aimed at adults. Although a bit dark for some kids, it's a real page-turner, and I highly recommend it ...

Book Reviews by Colin Doyle

Paperback Top Ten

1

The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown

Doubleday (US), Corgi (UK)
¥1,092
2

The Golem's Eye
(The Bartimaeus Trilogy #2)

by Jonathan Stroud

Corgi
¥1092
3 Eragon
by Christopher Paolini
Corgi
¥1449
4 Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne-Jones
HarperTrophy (US)
HarperCollins (UK)
¥966
5 The Five People You
Meet in Heaven

John Grisham
by Mitch Alborn
Hyperion (US)
WarnerUK (UK)
¥966
6 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by JK Rowling
Scholastic (US) ¥1365
Bloomsbury (UK) ¥1764
7 Retribution
by Jilliane Hoffman
Barkley ¥1092
8 Bridget Jones: The Edge
of Reason
(movie tie-in)
by Helen Fielding
Picador
¥1,617
9 The Notebook (movie tie-in)
by Nicholas Sparks
Warner
¥1029
10 The Bourne Supremacy (movie tie-in)
by Robert Ludlum
Bantam, ¥1092

Top Ten supplied by Yohan

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