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The Sweetest Fig Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 25, 1993

4.8 out of 5 stars 168 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Van Allsburg swings back into his most mystifying mode with this enigmatic, visually sophisticated tale of Monsieur Bibot, a "very fussy" French dentist who is given a pair of magic figs as a form of payment by an impoverished patient. The fruit, he's told, has the power to make dreams come true. The pragmatic Bibot scoffs at this, of course, but learns otherwise after eating one. Accordingly, he makes plans to use the second fig to become the richest man on earth (and to ditch Marcel, his oppressed terrier, for a string of Great Danes). The images in the book are unsettling, even ominous: Bibot lurking in a doorway with a rolled-up newspaper, ready to punish Marcel; Bibot gleefully clutching a pair of pliers as he prepares to extract an old woman's tooth; a frowning Bibot standing, fists clenched in anger, as his patient offers him the figs instead of cash. The dentist is a thoroughly unsympathetic character; readers will rejoice when the long-suffering Marcel gobbles the second magic fig and, in a poetically just ending, reverses the master-slave relationship. The sepia-toned illustrations are classic Van Allsburg, offering a visual study that is downright psychological; the artwork's spare lines and clean surfaces reflect the obsessively orderly Bibot's nature. Adults will appreciate Van Allsburg's acuity, while many children will relish the darker aspects of his story. A significant achievement. All ages.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up-Another quietly bizarre and stunning picture book from Van Allsburg. In this modern fairy tale, a Parisian dentist (a prissy and sadistic man who even hates his own dog) is given two magic figs by an old woman who tells him, "'They can make your dreams come true.'" Bibot scoffs. However, after the first fig proves to do exactly that (in a scene in which the dentist walks down the street in his underwear, and then the Eiffel Tower droops over), he realizes how precious they are. Night after night, he hypnotizes himself into dreaming that he is the richest man on earth. Finally, he prepares to eat the second fig. But his dog, Marcel, beats him to it, and the following morning, the dentist wakes up as the helpless pup under a bed, with his own face calling to him, "'Time for your walk. Come to Marcel.'" The Sweetest Fig is a superb blend of theme, language, and illustration, with a very grabbing plot as well. The writing is formal yet direct, using simple, deliberate vocabulary to match the elegant setting and mood. The shades of gray, cream, and brown and the calm, stable design enhance this mood. The angle at which readers view scenes is always intriguing and heightens their involvement. Most children old enough to read this complex book on their own will be fascinated and will return to it again and again. Van Allsburg at his best.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Lexile measure : AD720L
  • Grade level : Kindergarten - 3
  • Item Weight : 15 ounces
  • Hardcover : 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0395673461
  • Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.13 x 11 inches
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0395673461
  • Reading level : 5 - 8 years
  • Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; Illustrated edition (October 25, 1993)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 168 ratings

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
168 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries

dancingkangaroo
5.0 out of 5 stars What an adorable story, with a lovely little lesson delivers with ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2017
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Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2014
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Jennifer L. Bellinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on September 17, 2018
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