Undercover Ostrich

Joe Kulka (Author)


Animals can be sneaky. But do you know who is especially sneaky? Undercover ostriches! They're everywhere, and they're masters at going undetected. You've probably seen one and just assumed it was another woodpecker or owl. The narrator of this book is on the case, following a single ostrich on his many adventures. Not until the final twist does author and illustrator Joe Kulka let the readers in on the narrator's true motivation: a peanut collection mission involving undercover elephants.

Product Details

$17.99  $16.55
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
April 02, 2019
9.4 X 0.5 X 11.1 inches | 0.95 pounds
Library Binding
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Joe Kulka is an award-winning author and illustrator who has worked on numerous highly esteemed projects such as the multi-award-winning Wolf's Coming!, which received the 2007 Society of School Librarians International Honor Book Award. This is not his first cookie rodeo, as he also illustrated the popular Gingerbread Man Superhero! for Pelican Publishing. An avid fly fisherman, Kulka can often be found trading in his paintbrush for a fly rod. He lives in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children.


Plenty of animals are good at hiding. But the sneakiest of all? Surprise--it's the ostrich! No, really. You just don't see them because they're so good at it. In a narrative that grows increasingly more ridiculous (with hilarious results), the speaker insists that ostriches are master camouflagers--they hide in the daytime and the nighttime, in the city and in the country. There might even be one in your house RIGHT NOW. The playful digital illustrations, however, make it blindingly clear that this narrator may not be altogether the most reliable: 'It took me several hours to realize this was not a picture of two woodpeckers, ' the text proclaims alongside a double-page spread of a woodpecker and, clearly, a dazed-looking ostrich. 'Can you see the ostrich? It is difficult because he is undercover, ' the narrator comments alongside a very obvious image of an ostrich in a birdbath. ('I KNOW! Hard to find, right?') Young listeners will chuckle at the absurdity (and surprise ending), and this classroom-friendly read-aloud has appeal for adults as well.--Booklist

-- "Journal"

A silly ostrich hides in plain sight. An ironic counterpoint between the text and the art has words asserting the eponymous ostrich's hiding abilities while illustrations make the enormous bird humorously conspicuous from one page to the next. 'I've been keeping an eye on them. They are experts at blending into their surroundings, ' claims the narrator. The accompanying art shows the ostrich precariously perched on a sagging telephone wire, with two diminutive robins peering up the length of its pink neck. The ostrich's bulging eyes gaze nervously up at the telephone pole, and there's just no way to say that its black-and-white feathered body blends in with the sky behind it. Subsequent humorous spreads continue to exclaim at the ostrich's ostensibly successful efforts at hiding while the illustrations make it appear obvious and awkward on every spread. At the book's end the offstage narrator speculates that the ostrich tries to hide in order to 'steal food from the squirrels' as the art depicts it gobbling a birdfeeder whole. Then a fallen peanut causes the narrator to reveal itself, as it speculates that maybe it will get a snack if it becomes 'AN UNDERCOVER ELEPHANT.' Here and throughout this one-joke picture book, the watercolor-and-pencil illustrations carry the bulk of the humor. The picture of the rotund pachyderm trying to hide behind a narrow tree is funny, but the verbal punchline doesn't quite land. Silly stuff.--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal"