From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Everyone loves Leopold, who holds court at the Leipzig zoo on Sunday afternoons and tells fantastic tales of faraway places. One day, a learned professor comes to town and gives a lecture on the real places he has been. Everyone is bored and either leaves or falls asleep. The indignant Doctor Morgenfresser shouts, Your Leopold is a liar! and has him hauled off to jail. On trial the man explains that he never claimed any of it actually happened, the people declare him Leopold the Storyteller, and he is released to tell his stories to the children of the village. While Leopold's alliterative tales are mildly entertaining, the moral is heavy-handed. The thickly painted, woodblock-style artwork, which is reminiscent of Chagall's bright colors and angular, slightly floating characters, is interesting and fits the style and location of the story well. Aviram does a nice job of contrasting the scenes of Leopold's imprisonment and trial with his stories by using drab colors for the former and bright jewel tones for the latter. While this artist is one to watch, the story is minimalist in style and, unfortunately, in its impact.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
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PreS-Gr. 2. What is truth? Is it fact? Is fantasy a lie? This lively picture-book fable considers the power of story. In Leipzig's zoo, Leopold thrills people with his tales of such faraway places as "the great galaxy of Gelato," which is governed by Gertrude the gabby gorilla. But when scientist Doctor Doctor Professor Morgenfresser substitutes boring facts and accuses Leopold of telling lies, the beloved storyteller is arrested. The case is dismissed, however, after Leopold defends his fantasies: "Unless you say that it actually happened, or that you actually saw something--it's only a STORY." Then everyone gathers once more to listen to Leopold's marvelous tales. The silliness, the rhythm of the words, and the magic realism of the brilliantly colored pictures (including images of "parading piglets play[ing] pipes at parties for puppies") affirm what kids know: the exciting truth of imaginative play. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved