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Guess What? Hardcover – October 15, 1990

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just as actors are occasionally miscast, so too can authors and illustrators be mismatched by the powers that be in publishing: Fox's latest picture book is a classic example. Her bare-bones storyline, in which she poses and answers a series of questions about a witch named Daisy O'Grady, isn't the problem--although it is surprisingly pedestrian--rather, the blunder is with the choice of illustrator. In a book aimed at very young children, Goodman's surreal visions, at times reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch, far too often overstep the bounds of good taste--and even stray into the Freudian, as in one instance where a dead fish dangles from a pair of panties hanging on a clothesline. The sophomoric humor (a jar is labeled "Porksnot & Co.--Mucus Pickle"), of the sort that delights readers of Mad magazine, will go right over the heads of the intended audience. They, unfortunately, will more likely focus on the book's nightmarish elements: insects crawling in the witch's bed, an owl with a dead mouse in his beak and the frightening visage of Daisy O'Grady herself. On all counts, this is a peculiar production. Ages 3-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-- A picture book with off-center wit and style. The structure is simple,wit and style. The structure is simple, introduced on the first page with a flat statement: "Far away from here lives a crazy lady called Daisy O'Grady." This is followed by a series of questions ("Is she tall? Guess!") that are answered with a resounding "Yes!" when the page is turned. Each exchange builds a description of a woman who, it is increasingly obvious, is a witch. The last lines, however, are reassuring: "Some people say she's really mean. But guess what? She's NOT!" The text is paired with illustrations that add to the eerie atmosphere with a photographic surrealism. Framed sharply to face the text, which is in large print, the pictures become increasingly bizarre in their use of detail, commenting on the text as much as extending it. Gouache paintings portray a mildly engaging eccentric; the feeling of the illustration is darkly humorous while the words are sunnily simple and the structure is, at its root, reassuringly anticlimactic. The conflict is reflected in the final illustration: Daisy with an unidentified, fresh-faced young girl--a witch in training, perhaps? Fox bows off briskly, but Goodman trails away confusingly. The result is an entertaining picture book in which the visual style is too sophisticated for the text and the text too uncomplicated for the grotesque humor of the visual style. The whole, while interesting, is thus less than the sum of its parts. --Christine Behrmann, New York Public Library
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Gulliver Books; 1 edition (October 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152004521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152004521
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have to laugh at some of the reviewers here. Clearly this book is not meant for 3 year olds, in the same way not all Roald Dahl books are meant for young children. This in NO WAY reduces the entertainment factor and values shown in this book. So it doesn't fit squarely in with the other books the author has written. Writers have creative license to branch out, don't they? Only an adult would understand the "significance" of the fish and snake in the underwear -- honestly. The "Sex Pistols" can only be seen on a button which partially obscures the word "sex" for obvious reasons and is and is only relevant and meaningful to an adult, the same way "Lennon Brand Shaved Fish" is also meant to elicit a private, secret grin from a parent of a certain age group. That sort of reference will go right over the heads of a child, as it is meant to. The book is wholesome. As the last illustration plate shows, it's meant to destroy the Salem-esque archetype of witches as "bad" and "scary," as the young girl is exhilarated to be with a supposedly spooky, crazy woman who turns out to be her mentor -- they are out in the moonlight, she's eager to learn, excited, and there's a warm bond between them.

This book is meant for children who are just about to start reading books without pictures and are phasing out of illustrated books. It's wonderful, clever, magical, detailed, and funny. I wish there were more childrens' books like it.
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Format: Hardcover
My toddler and I love this book. It is so much fun. The text is sparse but interactive--you have to keep guessing things about Daisy O'Grady; in the end she is revealed to be a witch, a friendly witch, however. The award-winning illustrations are just superb. They look like photographs, albeit surrealistic photographs, filled with an explosion of animals, household products, hats, you name it. One caveat: If you are afraid of/offended by witches and want books containing anything mythical/supernatural censored from school libraries, then this book is not for you.
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Format: Paperback
This is a WONDERFUL book, for children and adults. Children will love the participation aspect of it and will find the paintings amusing. The paintings are so incredibly intricate that one finds new things each time one sees the page. I disagree with the reviewers who say this book is not suitable for children. I have read this book to children and they LOVE it! They think it's hilarious and fun. And all my adult friends have bought copies for their personal collections.
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By A Customer on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
My daughter absolutely loves the illustrations in this book. She thinks the pictures are so silly. Mem Fox is making you guess throughout the book about a crazy old lady and this makes it a very fun book to read. We got it from the library and now we must purchase it!
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book when it first came out and fell in love with it. My daughter (under age 10 at the time) also loved it and read it so many times it wore out! I highly recommend this book for parents and kids with a good sense of humor. The illustrations are amazingly detailed, and yes, there are some silly/delightfully strange visual jokes in there, but nothing that's going to cause nightmares.

And if you have kids, you'd BETTER have a sense of humor, as they're yours for the rest of your life. ;)
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Format: Paperback
Despite the (absurd) Publishers Weekly review, this book is marvelous and always captured my imagination as a child; so much so, that it is one of the few children's books I have kept over the years. It is of course best read in October, though can easily be enjoyed throughout the year. It is most certainly odd, but profound and funny. One of my true favorites.
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Format: School & Library Binding
This is my second copy of Guess What. Preschoolers love this book.We have worn out the first copy. Guess What is one of our most requested books in the classroom,along with Tough Boris. The conversations that we have had go way beyound simple book reading. Think about the last time you read a book to a child that created conversation.Even the two year olds like this book.Daisy O'Grady is so cool.
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