Bridges, LaVon and Alice Wright, Alaska Animals, We Love You! Chants and Poems for Children. Illustrated and Designed by M. R. Anderson. Publication Consultants, Anchorage, Alaska. Hardback. CD in rear. $16.95.

Ostinato means “stubborn” in Italian. The next time you are engaged in conversation with an Italian, you might throw that in, especially if you are losing the argument. It also means a short and often-repeated musical melody or pattern; in other words, the basis of most children's songs. The authors, ably assisted by inspired drawings and a lovely lay-out (the oblong shape is perfect), have composed various poems and chants for very young children, although I expect adults will enjoy them as well.

Most of the poems are predictable paeans to the relatively cuddly animals of our vast state, although the caribou piece is harsh towards wolves -

    "Oh, you caribou, so many in a herd,

    here come the wolves;

    theyíll eat you with a smirk"

No mention of wolves keeping the herds healthy by culling the unfit. However, thatís nearly made up for by the Denali Park Wolves song. The first verse sets the tone:

    "We stay in the pack, Jack.

    We eat good food, Dude.

    We help each other, Brother.

    We work together, Heather.

    We like to howl, Pal!


One major error; sea otters and river otters are confused. River otters slide down muddy slopes. Sea otters were over hunted and affected by the oil spill of 1989. Nice title, though - "Where Have All the Otters Gone?"is quite appropriate for sea otters.

Setting a piece about the stages of salmon from eggs to adult to the tune of "Eensy Weensey Spider" was also inspired.

All in all (other than the otters) this is a fun book and a nice introduction to some of Alaskaís animals. If you canít sing; donít worry. Just turn the CD up.

D. L.