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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2007
I bought this book because I loved the original as a child. I was sorely disappointed. The original, charming and careful illustrations have been replaced in this reprint with some terribly sloppy, cartoonish goop. Some of the animals in the illustrations are unrecognizable because the illustrations are, in my opinion, just a bunch of misshapen globs. Several times while I was reading this book, my 5-year old twins would ask me to explain to them what the picture was. Aside from just being downright ugly, the new, sloppy illustrations don't fit with the carefully chosen wording of the text. I'm going to track down a copy of the original edition and would urge anyone else to do the same.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In some ways, children's book editors have the greatest job on earth. Let us say that you once loved a picture book as a child with all your heart and soul. Can you imagine anything more fun than having the power to not only republish that book of your youth, but to assign it an entirely new illustrator to boot? Now, reillustrating a forgotten gem is a tricky business. You have to find someone who matches the old text perfectly, but doesn't "update" the book in such a way that it'll date in years to come. Recently I came to the unavoidable conclusion that someone at Random House is a genius. "Never Tease a Weasel" as written in 1964 by Jean Conder Soule hasn't aged a jot text-wise. Its original illustrations by Denman Hampson, however, aren't exactly contemporary, so somebody thought to nab New Yorker cartoonist George Booth and get him to reillustrate this puppy. The result is an instantaneous classic. With words that kids then and now will appreciate and an illustrator who tempers the book's inclination to get sticky sweet with his own manic sense of humor, this is one of the finest mixes you'll ever have the pleasure of reading.

Weasel teasing may be frowned upon in this series of rhymes, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. In verse we learn that there are a million kind acts a person can perform for members of the animal kingdom. "You could make a riding habit for a rabbit if you choose; Or a make a turkey perky with a pair of high-heeled shoes." And what mustn't you do at any time? "But never tease a weasel, not even once or twice. A weasel will not like it - and teasing isn't nice!" Back and forth goes the text as we see a pair of shock-headed children giving doves gloves, a mule a pool, or frogs some sailing togs. Periodically, however, the narrator will turn back to those kids who do everything from spraying the weasel with a hose to surprising him with a whistle, in spite of some pretty clear directions not to do so. Finally, by the story's end, we see the two kids and the once beleaguered weasel sitting on a couch with their backs to us. The weasel is between the two of them, his tiny arms stretched out comfortably between them. "But never tease a weasel. Now remember what I've said! It's more fun to please a weasel and be friends with him instead." Aw[...]

Those of us familiar with the snarky endings a lot of picture books get these days may find themselves expecting a bit of weasel-driven comeuppance at the end of this story. An image of the two kids being teased BY the weasel, for example. But this is certainly not the case. Soule chose to end the story on a friendship-is-good note, and it works, though mostly because of George Booth. Another illustrator might have gone the ootsy-cutesy route and sacchrined this puppy up by the end. Not Booth. The final image is heartwarming without ever becoming too overtly adorable. It's nice. That's what Booth brings to the book. The rhymes are exceedingly clever at times, but it's the illustrator that has to compliment the action in just the right way. For example, the rabbit in the riding habit, then, hops along in his picture, losing various accouterments as he goes "plop ploppity plop plop." Booth gets how to do "awkward". If the thought of a possum in an Easter Sunday hat is silly then Booth knows how to make such an image doubly so. Plus, he never makes the mistake of having these ridiculous combinations make any sense. So the goat in a coat "with a collar trimmed in mink", looks simultaneously goatish AND pissed off. The mule in swimming trunks (blinders still on) leaps from the diving board in pretty much the most peculiar position possible. And even as these various critters do their thing, they're enticing enough to hold a squirmy child's attention for long periods of time.

Soule is stronger for Booth and Booth (I dare say) is stronger for Soule. I love Booth, don't get me wrong, but to make him adequately child-friendly you need to pair him with someone who will allow him to get comfortably crazed in a well-delineated format. This book offers him that chance. Now I work with a rather large children's collection, and in writing this review I was hoping to get my hands on a copy of Soule's original "Never Tease a Weasel". Sadly, for all my library's charms, there isn't a single copy of this book anywhere to be found. So I can't honestly say how Booth stands up to the original. I have seen the cover of the 1964 picture book, however, and just a glance is enough to show that Booth is the better man. The '64 book is tied inextricably to its era in terms of design, color, and style. Booth, on the other hand, is like his fellow New Yorker cartoonist William Steig. His sketchiness is the key to his timelessness. This is a really wonderful book, and a brilliant combination of artists. Someone somewhere is to be commended to giving it to us.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2000
I teach three year olds at a Day care center and found this book among a pile of junk. I read it once and they got hooked! I have been reading it almost every day for almost 5 months and they read along with me! It has a fantastic sing-song rhythm to it and a moral as well. They especially find the page where the children are wearing a mask and trying to tease the weasel amusing. I always pause because I KNOW they are ALL going to tell me that the child has a mask on! I wish I could own my own copy of this! If you have it... dust it off and start readng it to any little ones around you!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 1999
I read this book to my son when he was small. It was the one book he requested over and over. Now he has 2 small children and we would love to have a copy for them. My copy disintergrated it was so well read. I taught pre-school and of course shared this book until there was nothing left of it. I wish I had made a copy but I never dreamed such a popular book would go out of circlation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2010
Thirty-odd years ago, this book delighted my children. Now, with a 3-year-old granddaughter who loves books, I wanted a copy of it to experience the same delight her mother did as a toddler. It is ageless and retains its charm. I chose a used version of the original printing out of sentiment. The newer illustrations are probably great, but I wanted the same version I used to have. Very satisfied with my purchase!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2000
As a long-time weasel teaser, I was delighted to find a book that, through the simplest rhyming couplets, was able to impart such life-changing lessons. I must warn the parents of young readers, however, that the picture of the perky turkey wearing the stylish pumps had a profound effect on my development as a child. To this day, I cannot pass a shoe store without rushing in, pulling out the plastic, and exclaiming to the sales clerks, I'M A PERKY TURKEY! GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE! I have recently gotten my credit card debt under control, but I must warn others about the danger of this otherwise delightful little book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2000
I received this book more than 25 years ago from a book club. I still have that original book and only the back cover is missing. I loved it so much I even memorized it at one time when I was young. How could they let this treasure go out of print? What better way to remind my children not to tease, with fun rhymes and great pictures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2000
This is a wonderful childrens story. It has a very important lesson for children, but they don't know that they are learning a lesson because the book is so cute. My girls loved searching for the weasel. I wish I could find a copy that some collector hasn't overpriced for nieces and nephews to enjoy also. Perhaps we could convince the publisher to place it back in print!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1999
My daughter received this book 23 years ago and it was all three of my childrens favorite book. It shoud be a staple in every childs library. I can't say enough about its wouderful humor and lesson. Somehow we managed to loose it along the way.I only wish I could purchase it again to read to my grandchildren.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2000
I absolutely *LOVED* this book as a little girl, so much so that I recieved the name weasel from my father and whenever he teased my I would tell him "Never tease a Weasel!" I just remember loving it so much, and we made the sad mistake of selling it at one of my garage sales. I have been searching for a long time for a copy of it that is not priced to kill. If you can find it, grab it because it is really worth it :)
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