Ready Set Read Reviews - Dec 4, 2008

Have you ever felt out of place, not really knowing how you got where you are or where you belong? If so, you'll quickly be able to relate to the main character in this darling picture book from Arbordale. Kersplatypus is the tale of a young Platypus who finds himself washed away from his mother during a big Australian rain. When he settles he finds himself surrounded by lots of strange creatures all of which are just as confused about him as he is about them.

Poor little Platypus doesn't know what kind of animal he is, but the other outback animals are determined to help this little fellow figure out what exactly he is and where he belongs. The Brushtail Possum finds a similarity between herself and the creature, and concludes he must belong in a tree. But when the little Platypus is unsuccessful in climbing after the Possum he slips... KERSPLAT! Next he attempts to fly like the Kookaburra, yet again he's met with defeat. KERSPLAT! Over and over again, the little Platypus strives to prove he can keep up with the animals and that he truly does belong. Time and time again his efforts are unsuccessful. He is similar to all of them in a way, but he isn't exactly like any of the Outback animals. It's this realization that breaks the little Platypus's heart and brings tears to his eyes.

When finally wise Old Bandicoot happens by he is able to once and for all put a name to the fuzzy duck looking creature. He is a Platypus. Unfortunately though, this is where Old Bandicoot's knowledge stops. He knows what the lost creature is, but not where he belongs. Picking up on the opportunity for a fun play on words, Blue Tongued Skink contrives the nickname Kersplatypus for his new furry friend. Since with every attempt he made to follow in the steps of one of the other creatues he ended up going "KERSPLAT!" it seems an all too fitting name.

Soon after, Kersplatypus sets out on a walkabout to try to help himself recall something- anything- about where he belongs. And it doesn't take long before our dear little Kersplatypus finds the water and senses home.

Children will love this sweet story, and undoubtedly will ask you to read it over and over again. If not for the story itself then for the cute illustrations by Sherry Rogers. (The page with the Platypus crying is just absolutely adorable. He looks so sad and helpless. :( ) Each one is done impressively, and the animals seem to come alive on the pages.

Parents/Educators will love it not only because it is a fun story in general, but because it will lead its readers to to recognize and accept diversity. Opening young reader's eyes to the wildlife in another place (This of course only applies if you don't live in Australia.) will encourage and inspire them to learn more. There is also a "Creative Minds" section at the back of the book that allows readers to learn more fun facts about the Platypus. There's an activity page and short quiz where they can learn more about each of the Outback animals featured in the story. There's a section where the author discusses animal classifcation (plants, animals, mammal, reptile, etc), and then gives the reader a chance to try his or her own hand at classifying the animals from the story. Since the story itself tied this in through the other animals trying to figure out what kind of animal Platypus is, I think this is a really neat feature. Last but not least, there is also a short question section that inspires the reader to consider the story, and to do so on a level of "Bully vs Friend". I think this is a great way to encourage conversation with young readers to help them learn basic social skills, and to help reinforce the age old idea of treating others like you'd like to be treated.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Go to review online

The Reading Tub - May 2008

Summary: What is that? The animals gather around to look at this small creature staring at them. They each pick an attribute to help decide what he is. Where do I belong? The creature wants to know where he fits in, and the animals want to help. Everyone but the skink. He has nothing to offer ... except teasing. Will platypus ever discover who he is and where he belongs? A fictional story and non-fiction material come together in this story about learning (and accepting) who you are.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9

Age of Child: Shared with 6-year-old girl.

Little Kid Reaction: Our child followed along as we read the story, but instantly got engaged when skink's name-calling caused platypus to cry. That was the piece that stuck with her ... and made it hard to get her interested in reading it again (even with the happy ending).

Big Kid Reaction: Although the story may sound familiar, this is not your usual menagerie of animals: a wallaby, a kookaburra, and a bandicoot. Very cool. The illustrations are amazing, giving the animals the right level of factual accuracy, but also making them personable so they are memorable to kids.

Pros: Kids and parents will enjoy this story that gives them facts about animals they'd find in Australia (and a few zoos) and offers memorable life lessons, as well.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is a package deal: great factual information that will be a perfect baseline for a school project and a story that will resonate with them. Every child will empathize with the platypus ... and every parent can reinforce messages of kindness and to treat people the way you want to be treated.

Educational Themes: Use this book to expand your child's world, whether its geography (Australia), animal habitat, or nature in general. Following the model of the other animals, they can learn about teamwork and bullying. Ask them to talk about differences AND similarities between pairs of animals or the collective group. It's a great way to practice their skills of observation and discernment.

Notes: This is an Accelerated Reader title. Spanish and English audio readings are available for free.

Go to review online

Armchair Interviews - January 2008

Arbordale Publishing publishes the best in children’s literature. Their books are entertaining, tell a grand story, educate children (and adults) and are oh so appealing to the eye with their fun, quirky, colorful and delightful illustrations.

Kersplatypus is the exciting adventure of a strange little creature that suddenly appears after the big rains in Australia. The animals wonder what ‘he’ is (even the little creature doesn’t know what ‘he’ is). But the animals do know he has fur, a tail, feet and a duck-like bill. With the clues they have, the animals band together to help the little creature discover who he is and where he belongs.

Sometimes good friends, tenacity and spirit go a long, long way in finding the answers to the questions that don’t seem to have answers.

I love Kersplatypus. He’s the cutest little platypus. And I love the cozy, caring feel of the story. The illustrations add tremendously to the flavor of the story and are so beautiful that children and adults will be drawn to them.

I also love that the book contains some fun facts about the platypus–and that there are activities for the children.

This book is also a great gift to give those special little ones in your life. I suspect the kids will wear out the book from use. It’s that good.

Armchair Interviews says: Kersplatypus is a must have!
-Andrea Sisco

Go to review online

CLCD - March 2008

This delightful tale is sure to be a winner with young readers and listeners. In the tale, Brushtail Possum, Kookaburra, Blue-Tongued Skink, and Wallaby discover an unusual, lovable-looking, but lost young creature in their habitat. The tale progresses in an easy-to-follow manner with each animal trying to place the creature in its own natural setting. The misplaced creature steals their hearts as they attempt to help it find where it does belong. Along the way, it takes some falls when attempting to climb a tree like Possum, fly like Kookaburra, and jump like Wallaby. The Blue-Tongued Skink rolls with laughter during each failed attempt and it names the creature a Kersplatypus because of all the “Kersplats” it experiences. Finally when Old Bandicoot happens along, he is able to tag the creature correctly as a Platypus and the helpful friends successfully get the creature to the river where it gracefully swims, splashes, and finds its mother. In addition to being a fun story, the book presents excellent material about Australia by showing the habitats of Australian animals and introducing Australian terms like “walkabout” and “Waltzing Matilda.” Detailed, interesting, and humorous illustrations add to the text. Well-written end material offers platypus facts, an adaptation activity, a sorting/classification exercise, and a discussion page about being a bully or friend. Add this unique book to pre-school and elementary grade classrooms. It can supplement geography and social lessons as well as lessons on drawing conclusions from facts that are presented. BIBLIO: 2008, Arbordale, Ages 3 to 7, $16.95.

- Nancy Attebury


Epinions.com - January 2008

”You’re the craziest looking thing I’ve ever seen,” said Blue-Tongued Skink. “What are you supposed to be?” A skink, Brushtail Possum, Kookaburra and several Australian animals all help a lost and lonely baby platypus find his identity. Through comparisons of their body parts we learn about adaptations but young readers will learn how to solve the riddle of the baby’s identity in Kersplatypus by Susan K. Mitchell.

He learns what he isn’t. The Brushtail Possum thought the claws on the tips of his toes meant he lived in a tree. He couldn’t climb the tree but instead went Kersplat!

Kookaburra thought perhaps the webbed feet and scoopy duck bill meant he could fly. So they went to a large rock and he showed him how to flap and fly. But all he did was go Kersplat.

Wallaby determined that Platypus's thick, powerful tail meant he probably also lived on the ground. They both tried sitting and bouncing on their tails. Platypus tried, but went Kersplat and then he cried, feeling pretty hopeless.

Old Bandicoot came along (a wise old animal) and he said, “I’ve heard of a creature like this: a furry body, webbed feet, and a scoopy duck bill. Pretty sure it’s call a Platypus but sorry, I can’t tell you where he belongs.”

This is a delightful story about a Platypus who makes new friends in the Australian outback. They lovingly and jokingly attempt to help him find his identity as well as were he belongs. This is a baby platypus in need of his mother but where is she?

Repetition of language and body functions introduces first graders to animals of Australia. This tells a story of friendship and it ends with a predictably happy ending. Children will enjoy the opportunity to predict and say “Kersplat, he fell flat” and will doubly enjoy saying Kersplash Kersplat.

Arbordale Publishing continues to produce science books for young audiences that are not only excellent stories but that provide educational content. In Kersplatypus, author Susan K. Mitchell helps children observe differences in fur, feet, tails, and bills while teaching about their uses. She also introduces young readers to some animals found living in Australia. In telling this story she explores fun words that help with language: splish, splash, waddled, commotion, rumbling, tumbling, and much more. This is a fun way for young readers to stretch their vocabulary. She tells this heart-warming story with an “Aussie accent”, which creates additional language fun.

Arbordale concludes this book with 4 ½ pages of lessons in their For Creative Minds section. Included are some platypus fun facts, an outback animal adaptation activity, a simple animal classification, and some open-ended questions about bullies and friends. Visit www.arbordalepublishing.com and look up teaching activities for this book. They have a 29-page document with before and after questions, language arts activities, science lessons (classifying, adaptations, life cycles, a day in the life of…, and more), math, research, geography and character (caring about others). Another resource from Arbordale is their learning links, which provides valuable web resources on each of the animals mentioned in this tale as well as Australian habitats.

Susan K. Mitchell has written two other picture books and more than 14 chapter books. Her idea came from the fun use of “kersplat” when her own child fell flat. She collaborated with illustrator Sherry Rogers who claims she uses a lot of paper, pencils, and erasers. She scans her illustrations into her computer where she paints using photoshop. Visit her website to learn more about her process (www.sherry-rogers.com). She provides pages with images from her books that can be downloaded and then colored by children. Her animals are friendly, charming, and young children will adore them. I’m just wondering if they will create a stuffed platypus to accompany this book.

What I Like! In particular, the platypus's tenacity and animal's concern both model desirable character and citizenship behaviors. The observations introduce readers to adaptations and functions of certain body parts. This helps with predicting. The repetition guides language development. Meeting animals from another part of the world expands global awareness. The art is charming and the characters are precious. Children will love the way the skink laughs. Some of the language might be too advanced for preschool, but the language fun, pictures, and story will appeal to some four year olds. As a science-based picturebook for kindergarten and first grade, this entertaining book gets five stars from me.
-Patsy Side
Go to review online

Publishers Weekly - February 2008

This labored story centers on a small, furry, web-footed creature with a “scoopy duck bill” who appears on the Australian outback after heavy rains without knowing how he got there. He is a novelty to the other animals, one of whom, a blue-tongued skink, snidely comments, “You’re the craziest looking thing I’ve ever seen.... What are you supposed to be?” While attempting to discover where he belongs—in a tree, in the air, on the ground—the lost animal repeatedly falls (“kersplat!”). An old bandicoot finally identifies him as a platypus and the skink derisively dubs him “Kersplatypus.” Eventually Platypus feels drawn to the river’s edge and, “before you could say ‘Waltzing Matilda,’ ” jumps into the water and “flipped and flopped and felt right at home.” The bullying skink gets his comeuppance, falling on a slippery rock with a “kersplash!” Rogers’s mixed-media art offers detailed renderings of Australian species, but also anthropomorphizes them: the bandicoot walks with a cane, a possum wears a flower behind her ear, etc. Back matter introduces a schoolroom flavor, with some educational activities and discussion starters (“Has anyone ever made fun of you? Did you like it? What did you do?”). Ages 3-7. (Feb.)

Reader Views - Dec 2008

“Kersplatypus” by Susan K. Mitchell is a about a little lost animal who is trying to find out what he is and where he belongs.  Brushtail Possum, Kookaburra, Wallaby, and Old Bandicoot all try to help him.  Kookaburra says he should fly, Brushtail Possum says he should climb; Wallaby says he should bounce, but each time he tries to do these things he falls flat on his face.  Kersplat!  Blue Tongued Skink makes fun of him and teases him but when he finds out that the lost creature is a platypus and lives in the water, he tumbles into the water and discovers what it is like to fall flat.

This book will teach people a lot about animals from Australia.  I learned about unusual mammals like marsupials and monotremes.  There are even some activities about animals in the back of the book.  I really like the pictures because they were funny and kind of realistic. I would recommend “Kersplatypus” by Susan K. Mitchell to people who like animals.

Go to review online

The Midwest Book Review "Children's Bookwatch" - February 2008

Kersplatypus is a children's picturebook about a young platypus who doesn't know where he belongs. Other Australian wildlife try to introduce him to climbing trees, flying the skies, or bounding along the ground, but the platypus just doesn't take to it. At last he discovers his natural home -- in the water with his beloved mother. Additional pages of fun facts about the platypus and other animals native to Australia round out this delightful, enthusiastic, and educational picturebook.

Art of Creativity - June 2008

Down under, in Australia, there is a creature who doesn’t know who he is or where he belongs. His friends, Bushtail Possum, Wallaby, Blue-Tongued Skink, and Kookaburra kindly try to help him, but he just keeps falling “KERSPLAT!” Old Bandicoot says he’s a Platypus, but where does he belong? Young readers will enjoy following Kersplatypus’ adventures as he searches the Australian landscape for his identity.

Author Susan K. Mitchell has brought some of the animals and the geography of Australia alive for children in a most delightful way. The illustrations by Sherry Rogers highlight the story, plus give an extra depth and richness, so that you feel as if your are right there with the animals. The story is not only fun to read, but also informative. The activities in the back give children and classrooms added fun in animal recognition and geography. This book is highly recommended for children ages 3-7.

-Judith Nasse


The Well-Read Child - January 2008
On February 10th, Arbordale is bringing us Kersplatypus, the story of a creature who appears in the Australian Outback after the big rains. The other animals, including Kookaburra, Wallaby, and Blue-Tongued Skink among many other animals indigenous to the Outback, have never seen a creature this before and have no idea what he is. Even the poor creature himself doesn't know, so they all set upon a mission to help him discover where he belongs. They first lead him to a tree, which he attempts to climb but falls down with a KERSPLAT! Determined to help him find his place, the animals go through a number of similar scenarios until, with the help of wise, old Bandicoot, he finally figures it out.

Susan K. Mitchell does an excellent job with characterization. Brushtail Possum is the nurturer of the group as she is the first to help the creature, and mischievous Blue-Tongued Skink reminds me of my little brother. We get a clear picture of his personality early on in the story when he first sees the creature, " 'You're the craziest looking thing I've ever seen,'… 'What are you supposed to be?'" Mitchell also does a great job of giving young readers interesting facts about Australian wildlife through her story without making it seem like they're being taught a lesson. Through the creature's attempts to find where he belongs, readers learn that possums live in trees, kookaburras fly, wallabies bounce high in the air, and much more.

Sherry Rogers' vivid and detailed illustrations perfectly complement the story and bring the characters to life. One of my favorite illustrations is the scene where Wallaby is bouncing in the air. Blue-Tongued Skink is lying on a rock, hands under his chin, with a grin on his face just waiting to see the creature go KERSPLAT!

Children, teachers, and parents will also enjoy the "For Creative Minds" section in the back of the book where there are a number of activities including more fun facts about the platypus and much more. Also, be sure to visit Arbordale's website where you can find a multitude of learning links to learn even more about Australia and its creatures.
- Jill Tullo
Go to review online

In The Pages... - January 2008
I LOVED Kersplatypus - it was much the same idea as Little Skink's Tail - which I also loved - these books are great ways to learn about nature and still enjoy a fun story. This story has a wonderful "Aussie" flair though with all of the animals being from the land down under! Probably what I love most about Arbordale books is that in each book, there are 3-5 pages in the back that give additional activities for even more science learning. And if that isn't enough, there are 20-80 page lessons plans available as well. AND I'm still not done - you can go on the internet for web site links that correlate with the story/theme. I am telling you - they treat you right!
- Becky Bilby
Go to review online

Family Briefs - February 2008

Do you ever feel like you’re just falling flat on your face and can’t quite get it all together? I didn’t realize I had planned a slow cooker recipe for supper until 4 pm - KERSPLAT! I left the snacks for preschool at home on the dryer and had to go back and get them - KERSPLAT! I took my youngest son to the wrong Tae Kwon Do class - KERSPLAT! And that was just Monday!

So I can completely relate to the Platypus in the book, , by Susan K. Mitchell. This was one of the books I received from Arbordale Publishing to review, and it is certainly as enjoyable as the other book they sent me. The illustrations by Sherry Rogers are so endearing and bring the personalities of each animal to life.

The story begins when an unidentified creature is discovered by several animals found in Australia. None of the other animals seem to know what this creature is or where it belongs, but they do try to help the little lost creature figure out where he belongs - my children quickly decided that the Wallaby was the nicest animal and the Blue-Tongued Skink was the meanest.

As each animal finds similarities with the lost animal, they try to suggest where he might belong. But each time he tries to fit in to another’s habitat, he falls “KERSPLAT” on his face. While many of the animals are sympathetic, the mean-old Blue-Tongued Skink just keeps on laughing at him!

Finally a Bandicoot is able to determine that the lost animal is actually a Platypus, but he can’t help the Platypus find his home. Unfortunately, the Blue-Tongued Skink takes to name-calling, and says, “So far, all he’s good at is falling flat. He’s not a platypus . . . he’s a KERSPLATYPUS!”

The friendlier animals keep walking with him to try to find his habitat, when they happen upon a river. The Platypus quickly discovers that the water is his home, and he even finds his mother in the river! You’ll feel much better to know that the skink slithers onto a rock by the river and falls - KERSPLAT - on his face (serves him right, you know!).

While Kersplatypus is really a cute story with lots of real animal facts thrown in, I still think the neatest thing about the Arbordale Publishing books is the educational activities in the back. This particular book has a “Platypus Fun Facts” page, an “OutbackAnimal Adaptation Activity”page, a two-page spread on “Animal Classification,” and then some “wrap-up questions” about bullies and friends (I particularly like the one that asks “Which animals would you like to have as friends? Why?) There are several great discussion questions that provide opportunities for some real quality conversation time with your child.

The Arbordale Publishing website is certainly worth checking out - there are links to the “Creative Minds” section of each book so you can see what kinds of interesting facts are covered, teaching activities for many of the books, learning links, stuffed animals for sale that coordinate with the books, as well as audio versions of the books so you can listen online (great for early readers who can read along as they listen).

They have great books and wonderful resources for teaching kids and encouraging them to read and learn! I highly recommend visiting their website and seeing all they have to offer - follow the link above, so you don’t go KERSPLAT!

- Karen Herring

Go to review online

Wee Ones Children's Magazine - March/April 2008

What an endearing character found in Kersplatypus. When the animals of the Australian Outback find this unusual animal, they are bound and determined to help it find its home. The journey is both fun and adventurous as the little platypus struggles in trees and on land. This is not where a platypus belongs! Lovely illustrations bring the Outback to life and show children what animal-life is like in another part of the world!

-Jennifer Reed