In Hatching Sharey, Bao-Khanh Tran presents a children’s picture book about a young platypus searching for self-identity, family connection, and its place in the world.
When an unusual-looking creature with a duck-like bill, mole-like claws, and beaver-like tail hatches from an egg, she ventures into the wild—only to encounter, one at a time, a duck, mole and beaver. While she’s thrilled to note her similarities to each, she’s disheartened to find that she is also very different from them. Soon, however, she learns that while her differences set her apart, she isn’t handicapped by them. In fact, without her unique set of features, “the world wouldn’t have good ole Sharey.”
Tran’s story provides teachable moments as she weaves the variety of furry and feathered species into the story, then highlights their individuality and special characteristics. The charming artwork provided by Tran and fellow illustrator, David Swaschnig is a strong complement to the storyline. Clear, simple drawings with soft, natural colors help harness the gentle spirit and intentions of the writing.
Unfortunately, the story falls short in its writing mechanics. Told in rhyme, the narrative isn’t broken into stanzas, diminishing the effectiveness of the rhyming pattern. Also, clarity and rhythm are often lost as the author uses convoluted sentences to stretch for a rhyme. Consider Sharey’s meeting with Mrs. Duck: “She looked outside and found an animal with the same nose. The platypus wanted to see the animal pass the meadows.” Or: “She wandered out of the swamp and into the river. A place where, if not for her fur, she would’ve quivered.”
Tran creates a friendly environment in the pages of Hatching Sharey, with non-threatening animal characters that honor their similarities and differences. However, revision to enhance clarity and to format and smooth over rhymes would greatly improve this offering.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.