From School Library Journal
Grade 2-6-Hughes originally wrote these stories for his own children and first published them in 1963. They have remained in print in Great Britain, but this is the first American edition. The stories are of the pourquoi variety, providing fanciful explanations for why animals behave as they do. There is the tale of Owl, whose mean-spirited actions earn him taunts from the other birds; Elephant, who after much humiliation emerges as the most respected of creatures; and Donkey, whose indecisiveness seals his fate. These 11 selections are told with such wit, grace, and command of language that they are easily on a par with Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and should have the same longevity and universal appeal that those tales enjoy. While the book can be read independently, it begs to be read aloud and is a veritable gold mine for storytellers. Morris's watercolors are impressive, and her cool palette, largely blues, soft grays, and greens, suits the rather aloof nature of the characters she portrays. There is one gorgeous full-page illustration for each selection, with smaller pictures scattered throughout. In all, a feast for both the ear and eye.Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 4-8. First published in 1964, Hughes' creation fables await discovery by a new generation in this beautiful edition. From his lyrical introduction, describing the brand new world ("the flowers jumped up and stared around, astonished. Then . . . creatures began to appear"), Hughes moves on to tell his classic stories about how individual creatures came to be: the whale that began as a garden plant; the power-hungry owl ostracized by its peers; the handsome, clever cat, lazy but talented; and so on. Hughes balances these fantastic stories with a notion children will find inspiring: despite the fantastic stories, some animals became what they wanted to be simply by will and hard work ("Some wanted to become finches, some wanted to become lions, some wanted to become other things. The ones that wanted to become lions practiced at being lions--and by and by, sure enough, they began to turn into lions"). Hughes' prose, both comical and elegantly spare, finds a worthy match in Morris' lavish, detailed watercolors. Stunning spreads and border illustrations celebrate each animal's beauty, endowing the creatures with irresistible personalities (don't miss the lounging cat playing the violin), and extending the stories' comedy and soaring fancy. A volume to treasure. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved