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except if Hardcover – January 25, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1-With winsomely simple text and illustrations, this picture book is less a story than a convergence of fanciful possibilities. It begins with a large blue egg that's just beginning to crack: "An egg is not a baby bird." On the next page, the crack widens and an amorphous red face peeks out: "...but it will become one, except if...." When the small head becomes fully visible and reptilian, readers are led to believe, "it becomes a baby snake." But every time they think they know where they stand, another "except if" giddily overthrows their expectations. Reminiscent of favorites like Mike Lester's A Is for Salad (Putnam, 2000) and George Shannon's Tomorrow's Alphabet (Greenwillow, 1996), Except If is an entertaining, intriguing mental adventure.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Averbeck plays contrarian in this fun exercise in defying narrative assumption. An egg is not a baby bird, / but it will become one / except if—and here we see that the tiny red face emerging from the cracked egg is not, in fact, a bird—it becomes a baby snake. Page by page, the primary-colored pastels-and-watercolor illustrations tell a tale that looks to be headed one way until the page turn reveals another. It’s not actually a snake; it’s a lizard. (And the lizard looks as surprised as the reader.) The lizard’s fly-eating life ends when it grows into a dinosaur, and that dinosaur’s life ends, literally, when it turns into a fossil. It’s a surprising turn of events—our cute little protagonist is dead?—but Averbeck continues his run-on sentence undaunted, showing us how the fossil’s jaw creates a bare cliff that harbors a nest, which hatches an egg that will not become a baby bird . . . except if it does. It’s a concept that starts cleverly and then, almost sneakily, warms the heart. Preschool-Grade 1. --Daniel Kraus
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416995447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416995449
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
except if is a clever and highly original picture book that offers a unique opportunity for group sharing. Try this one out with your next group of preschoolers or kindergarten students and watch their eyes sparkle as their imaginations start to percolate. It won't be long until they catch on to this fun game and start offering their own "except" ideas. This is a fabulous example of a book's power to make children think and reason and perhaps construct their own narrative. All of this is packaged in a slight tale with not many words, and illustrations that are deceptively simple and very kid friendly. The format is perfect for reading aloud and I would encourage any teacher or librarian to give this one a try! Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tasha Saecker on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Follow this twisting, turning puzzle of a book that has you thinking one thing and then transforming it into another. It all starts with an egg that is cracking open. It will become a bird "except if" it becomes a baby snake. That snake will slither on the floor "except if" it is actually a lizard. The lizard is actually a dinosaur, which is actually a fossil, which shelters a nest, where a familiar blue egg is resting. What will be in the egg this time?

This book is pure fun. The reader puts themselves into the author's hands, unable to predict where this book will take them. The fossil piece was one that I was happily surprised by, not expecting the book to head in that direction. Averbeck's use of spare language to great effect makes this a book that will read aloud well. Its straightforward text is the perfect foil to the twists of the story line.

Averbeck's illustrations are bright and bold. The thick black lines and flat color evoke children's coloring books, giving it immense child appeal.

Add this to any story time on dinosaurs or as the ideal ending book for any general story time. It's sure to be requested again and again. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents VINE VOICE on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Except If, a new childrens book for 2011 by Jim Averbeck, is a story that starts out with a big blue egg which is about to hatch. At the beginning, it appears that a baby bird will soon hatch. On the pages that follow the story follows the .....

"An egg is not a baby bird, but will become one EXCEPT IF......

The children get to use their imagination...will it be a bird, a snake, a lizard or something else?
This seems like this would make a good, group story hour read for library tot groups to enjoy. Bright, bold illustrations and a story that should keep children guessing."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laura I. on August 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My 6 year old LOVED this book and read it several times to different family members. That is saying A LOT for a reluctant reader!!!!
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