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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 19, 2005
Lloyd Alexander is so incredibly talented; I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this children's book, previously unknown to me. The Fortune-tellers is a story of an old fraud whose prophesies for every customer are identical and very tongue-in-cheek. For example, the young man who comes to hear his fortune is told that he will become rich provided he can earn a lot of money, live a long life assuming it is not cut short by an early demise, and will marry his true love on the condition that he meets her, proposes to her, and she accepts him. The young carpenter is overjoyed by the good news of his future and runs back with more questions; however, he finds the room empty and when others come in, they assume that he is the fortune-teller transformed into a younger body. As the carpenter had been wishing for another trade, he takes the place of the old man, giving out the same advice which had been given to him. When this advice proves very popular he, in fact, achieves the wealth, happiness, and long life which had been "foretold" and often thinks fondly of the man who had seen the future so clearly. We learn of the fate of the real fortune-teller as well, who fell out of a window and spent the remainder of his life plagued by troubles. The humour in this story is great and will be enjoyed the most by older elementary or middle-school children who "get" the jokes.

I can't finish this review without commenting on the wonderful illustrations. The Caldecott medal-winning illustrator, Trina Schart Hyman, based them on her travels to Cameroon and they are truly exquisite. Rich and full of detail, each page is tapestry of colors and textures. This story is a perfect teaching tool and is a window for children onto the beauty of Africa and the bountiful humor and wisdom of its people. An entire unit could be developed from identifying and learning more about the foods, household items, clothing and fabrics, buildings, professions, landscape and animals shown in the amazing paintings found in this book. Even if you aren't able to develop such a unit, this book is an excellent choice to build interest and begin a discussion about West Africa.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2000
Hardcover, that is. This book has a place of honor in my small collection of picture books (I'm usually more of a chapter book person). The thing that really amazes me about it is that it's so universal it could have been set anywhere. Trina did a lovely job setting it in Cameroon, with her daughter's husband's family and their baby populating the illustrations. In one picture you can also see Lloyd Alexander sitting at a table in the background, with a vulture (or two?) perched above him (I hear he's a hypochondraic from way back). Trina and her ex-husband are also in the same picture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I don't know how author Lloyd Alexander and illustrator Trina Schart Hyman found one another for this book. Perhaps Mars was rising in the Pisces and all the stars were in correct alignment when it happened. Perhaps it was predicted by a seer decades before it could actually occur. Or maybe it was just one of those strokes of luck that produce books of pure perfection without ever meaning to. Whatever the reason, in the end their collaborative "The Fortune Tellers" is what you would expect of two geniuses. It is perfect.
The story concerns a young man who wishes to seek his fortune and escape the drudgery of carpentry. After visiting a fortune teller the young man is convinced he will someday attain wealth, love, and long life. But on returning to the fortune teller's lair later, he finds the old man gone and people mistaking HIM for a fortune teller. In the end, he gains everything he ever wanted by telling people a caveat-laden series of predictions.
The story is nice and funny. It's told well and children will get the key to the fortunes easily on their own. But honestly, this book could have been made or broken by its illustrator. In the wrong hands it could easily have gone beyond poorly drawn into offensive. Therefore, we should all give a great big sigh of relief that it was instead placed in the capable and multi-talent hands of Ms. Hyman.
Basing her pictures in Cameroon (a land where her son-in-law was originally from), Hyman has produced a plethora of drop-dead gorgeous drawings. Says Hyman in her bio about this creation, the book is illustrated with her, "memories of the incredible beauty, strength, and diversity of the landscape and people of Cameroon". Certainly the landscapes are lovely. From fields of grassland, mountain ranges, and wooded boulevards it stuns. But I was most taken with the people in this book. Honestly, I don't know how Hyman did it. Every single woman in this book is wearing several different printed cloths. Every man is different from every other. Every baby completely easy to distinguish from every other. If you want to be blown away, you don't even have to open the darned book. Just turn it over and look at the group of ten people standing on the back cover. From the coy baby to the pair of brothers to the girls that regard the viewer with matter-of-fact eye contact, I was just stunned. And I haven't even begun to tell you about the millions of tiny details in EVERY single picture. There are hundreds of things to discover. For example, the old fortune teller owns a French to English dictionary propped up in his bed. Small lizards are identifiable in almost every picture if you care to seek them out. Observe also the interactions between friends and neighbors. Amazing.
My words are inadequate. This book deserves every drop of attention you have to spare. Kids will love it. Adults will feast their eyes on every scene. It is the most beautiful of Hyman's creations, and truly an effective labor of love. I adore this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2002
From the very first page and the very first (of many) readings this beautifully illustrated story had my granddaughter and I laughing, pointing, and noticing all sorts of details in both the story and illustrations. We admired the beautiful clothing worn by the women and children. We imagined how wonderful it would be to visit such a place, and we found a fortune telling ball at a local novelty store to play with. This humorously told, universally appealing story shows us how we tend to look outside ourselves for the good fortunes we really have to create from within, with our own imagination and hard work.
We've travelled 40 miles to the city library several times over the last few years to check this book out. The last time, we had to wait for it to get back from the binders for repairs, and I realized I'd better find my own copy, because it could disappear, and it has become one of my personal "classics" for sharing with children. So I am ordering two; one for ourselves, and one for our little library here in town. (My granddaughter is seven years old now, and delights in reading the Fortune Teller herself, and will no doubt be reading it to her baby sister when she is old enough!) We highly recommend it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 14, 2001
This whimsical tale set in Cameroon is beautifully illustrated and told in such a fashion that children, as well as adults, will smile with delight as the events unfold. As an introduction to the different cultures of Africa, I read this one to my seventh graders and they were enthralled by the "predictions" of the old seer. A book that is perfect for the small set, it also has insight for more mature readers as to how we are so taken in by the allure of the psychic and his/her "revelations."
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on October 19, 2010
The fortune-teller will tell you your future - if only you can attain it. In this vibrantly illustrated folktale by award-winners Lloyd Alexander and Trina Schart Hyman, a carpenter worries his life will never be grand, he will never get the life he's always dreamed off.
The carpenter rushes off to a fortune-teller who lives above a cloth-merchant, to find out how his life will turn out. The fortune-teller, an old hunched-back man with the requisite quirky nature and crystal ball, gives him cryptic answers, but the carpenter does not mind. "Rich you will surely be," the fortune-teller tells him, all he has to do is "earn large sums of money." And yes, the fortune-teller assures the carpenter, he will be very happy, if he "can avoid being miserable." Excited and elated, the carpenter turns back on his way home to hear more good fortune. When he arrives, the fortune teller is gone and all that's left is the hat and crystal ball. The cloth merchant's wife comes to kick the swindling fortune-teller out of her house. She finds the carpenter, mistakes him for the transfigured old fortune-teller and announces it a miracle. But what will the carpenter do? Can he pretend to be a fortune-teller and still get all that he wished?
Aided by Schart Hyman's vibrant colors, Alexander's story and turns of phrase will delight readers eager to find if the man will get everything that he desires. Although the new fortune-teller is just a much a fraud as his predecessor, the story is an honest and humorous portrayal of fate. Readers are sure to feel enlightened by the idea that they are ultimately in charge of their own destiny. As for the old fortune-teller, this may not be the case.
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on March 31, 2005
Starts with a young carpenter who currently does not like his lifestyle and his job. He disires a life with a wife and a job that pays more. Then he hears that a famous fortune teller had come by town and he wanted to ask questions to see what his life would be like. He arrives at a cloth merchant shop and the fortune teller told the carpenter that he would be rich as soon as he gets a job with a nice pay. He also told the carpenter that he will marry and be happy ever after as long as he avoids being miserable. The carpenter was so happy with the results of the fourtunes he wanted to go back again. Then he finds no one inside the shop. Suddenly a costumer comes in thinking the carpenter was the fortune teller, he had no choice but the play along. He told all the people what the real fortune teller had told to him and more. He soon got famous and married the merchants daughter. All the things the real fortune teller had told the carpenter came true. As for the real fortune teller, he fell off the balcony and landed on a cart with lead him a lion and a hornets nest. Nobody knows what happened after that. The carpenter had alot to thank for the fortune teller. He was very happy that his future was seen so clearly.
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on October 13, 2010
A mistake changes a man's life forever. The Fortune-Tellers by Lloyd Alexander tells a story about a young carpenter in Cameroon seeking out an aged fortune teller for a better future. After paying a nice fee, he gets optimistic prophesies on wealth, fame and true love. As he returns for more advice, the seer has mysteriously disappeared. Who knows this is the turn of the carpenter's fate? He is mistaken for the fortune teller. By repeating the seer's hardly helpful advice to the townspeople, just as the carpenter wishes, he becomes wealthy and famous, and is happily married to the cloth merchant's daughter.

Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, the picture book is full of vibrant colors and details. The characters in multi-color African fabrics come to life through the double-page spread illustrations. The reader will be enthralled not only by the vivid scenery in West Africa but also the touches of humor. The twist-and-turn storyline will arouse them to turn the page from cover to cover. It's definitely the reader's fortune to pick this book.
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on April 12, 2006
During this book a young Carpenter hears theirs a Fortune-teller in the village nearby. So this guy went on a outstanding mission to find this fortune-teller in the village. He finally finds it, and the fortune-teller tells this curious man that someday he will find true love. During the night this brave, unwilling man goes back to the old man's stand and takes his magic cap, and his crystal ball, and while this is going on a banker lady is watching him. The next day the real fortune-teller left, and the carpenter became the new fortune-teller. Everybody from his old crummy village came to ask him some questions in his new, and approved village. Even the banker lady, her Husband, and her beautiful daughter came to visit. That's when the carpenter finds true love after all. The carpenter and the unbelievable woman get married under true, and peaceful love. Read this unbelievable story to find out what will happen next, will the Carpenter die, or will he stay alive through his new career.
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on May 23, 2007
"You will be wealthy and famous!" Has anyone ever told you your future? In this book it all starts out when a carpender goes to get his fortune told to him. The fortune-teller tells him hes going to be very wealthy and famous. He will also find the love of his life and live the rest of his life with her! When he goes back later that day to ask more queshtions the fortune- teller its gone!

A minute later a women came in thinking he was the fortune-teller asking him to tell her her future. He didint know what eles to do so he started to tell her exacly what the fortune- teller told him. The lady of course belived him and went and hold her family and friends about him and told them they had to come see him. The first lady's daughter came and he feel in love. What ever happend to the real fortune-teller? Is the new fortune-teller really going to live the rest of his life with the new girl? You will have to wait and find out!
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