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Kersplatypus Review by Donna Campos

By Susan K. Mitchell; illustrated by Sherry Rogers
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Kersplatypus is a 32-page children's book available in hardcover with jacket or paperback. It is a comfortable size of 8½ x 10 inches and includes 4½ pages of educational information at the end of the book with permission to photocopy for personal use. Fun Facts about the Platypus and an activity sheet describing six outback animals are part of those educational pages. The story is set in Australia after a rainstorm. Various animals of the outback help a small platypus while trying to determine exactly what sort of animal they have stumbled upon. Along the way, the young platypus learns more about his unique qualities as he figures out who he is and where he belongs. The animals are given human characteristics as they investigate the new creature and discuss who or what he might be. Designed for ages four to eight, the book includes vivid colors and fantastic illustrations. Facts about various animals in Australia are woven smoothly into the storyline as the characters observe the various body parts of the platypus. The book even introduces the scientific process of classification. The educational pages at the end are well written and include just enough information to entice an older child to learn more. Additional teaching activities are available on the website, including reading questions, coloring pages, and various other subject matter appropriate for elementary-aged students.  

Most children understand the fearful and uneasy feeling of being lost among strangers. Kersplatypuscaptures the investigative nature of children as the animals work as a team to help the new-found creature discover who he is. We were pleased to see no mention of evolution but disappointed to find no mention of our creator God either. The animal personalities included friends as well as a bully who teased the platypus, offering an accurate example of the various personalities most children will interact with in their own lives. Discussion questions in the activities section help children expand on the fact that some animals were more helpful than others. We appreciate the honesty in the presentation of different types of "people" portrayed by the various animals. This allows parents to openly talk with children about behavior traits. Some families may not be comfortable with human traits being given to animals, but we appreciated the flexibility of this imaginative approach. The story line is very creative and encourages positive traits. We enjoyed the story and were excited when the platypus finally found his mother, an animal just like him! Our children also loved discussing the unique traits of the Australian animals included in this story, several of which I had never heard of!  

Kersplatypus includes an adorable story, great animal facts, honest character traits, and good educational material in a single children's book. And the additional activities on the website are definitely a plus. The illustrations by Sherry Rogers are child-friendly while still accurately representing the physical attributes of the various Australian animals. Families will enjoy the inevitable discussions about teasing, helpfulness, and the little platypus's joy at the end of the story.Kersplatypus will become a favorite of families who enjoy educational value when reading.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008