Monday, April 23, 2007

Guji Guji

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen was one of the books that made it to the Primary List for Virginia State Reading Association’s Virginia Readers’ Choice list. One of our librarians informed me that this book received the most votes by kids in our area. Those votes will be totaled up with other votes in the state of Virginia. Who knows if this book will actually win the Virginia Readers’ Choice Award for the Primary list or not?

Guji Guji was first published in Taiwan in 2003, then published in the U.S. by Kane Miller in 2004.

I’m wondering how to pronounce the title, also the name of the character in the book. In my mind it sounds like Coochie, Coochie, Coo—somewhat like you would say to a baby. Listen to NPR’s Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon read the book and you’ll hear how to pronounce it.

The first thing I noticed about this book was the fabulous artwork also by Chih-Yuan Chen. The title papers have the animals in the book—ducks and an alligator—going off the page. It’s reminiscent of David Weisner’s Three Little Pigs in that Chih-Yuan Chen isn’t confined to margins. The other illustrations are over-the-top funny with the ducks and the alligators in silly, exaggerated positions. The adult crocodiles appear mean and conniving. The ducks are striped, polka-dotted, and yellow.

The book starts when a large egg rolls into the mother duck’s nest. She doesn’t really notice that is different from her eggs. When the eggs hatch, out comes a striped duck, a polka-dotted duck, a yellow duck, and a crocodile self-proclaimed “Guji Guji”. The crocodile doesn’t realize he’s different than the rest at first. He acts like a duck and becomes part of the duck family.

It is only when some adult crocodiles notice him that they tell him he is, in fact, a crocodile, not a duck. They try to trick him into luring his duck family to their hungry mouths. Guji Guji, now a crocoduck, finds a way to trick the ravenous crocodiles and save his family.

I can see why the kids in my area picked this as their favorite. It has enticing illustrations and a romping, funny story. I can’t wait to check out Chih-Yuan Chen’s other book, On My Way to Buy Eggs.

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