Hatching Sharey
by Bao-Khanh Tran

"Hey there, you interesting creature! You with all the different animal features."

After Sharey hatches she finds herself alone and seeking "her kind." Inquisitively meeting a duck, and then a mole, she is not immediately accepted because she is a bit different than a duck or a mole. Finally, Sharey comes upon a friendly beaver who accepts her for all the attributes she has—duckbill and all. The story revolves around a platypus duckling trying to find out where her beaver-like tail, mole-like claw, and duck-like bill places her in the animal kingdom.

With the expressive illustrations and silly animals, one can expect attention and giggles from kindergarten through second-grade classrooms when the teacher reads this aloud. But for individual reading it is more suitable for third graders. At that age, children will also understand the underlying message of celebrating diversity. Readers of all ages, however, will notice and laud Mr. Beaver for being a kind member of his community. The rhyme and rhythm of the story are melodious, charming, and fun for parents or teachers to read to children, but the illustrations—bright, colorful, lively and imaginative—might be what captures the K-3 audience most. It is one of those books that teachers should be prepared to hear "Wait, wait, show the picture again!"

The animals' expressions are meaningful and captivating for a young audience and should subtly remind them that all creatures have feelings. Sharey's pursuit of home and belonging also allows the author to take readers on a meadow journey. The book will surely intrigue budding naturalists and environmentalists, leading to questions and pursuit of further research about the platypus and its habitat.

This book is like a modern-day and richer version of the 1960s famous children's book, Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. If you loved that as a child, you are going to love reading this one to your class, children, or grandchildren.

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