THE THREE HEDGEHOGS

Javier Saez Castan, Author . Groundwood $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-88899-595-7

Originally published in Spanish, this quirky semi-political tale is embedded in a complicated format, presented as a "pantomime in two acts and a colophon" (a glossary defines a pantomime, "in this case," as a short comic play, and a colophon, also "in this case," as a short scene at the end of the play). In Act I, set in autumn, a trio of hedgehogs takes apples from a woman's farm. In Act II, set in spring, a menacing posse of rotund men armed with pitchforks and guns are stopped from killing the hedgehogs by the farm woman, who notices an apple sapling in the garden. From this point, the text becomes overtly didactic as the tree announces, "It was the hedgehogs who planted me.... Why would you kill them?" The posse "drops its weapons in shame," and "hands are held out in peace as the heroes are honored for their good deed." In the "Colophon," the animals wordlessly enjoy a feast together the following fall. Throughout, Latin, Chinese, French and Spanish words adorn the stylish paintings (these, too, are defined in the glossary), adding layers of linguistic and visual sophistication that will likely maroon younger readers. For example, fleurs-de-lis close up their petals when the hedgehogs are accused, and a large hand with a pointing finger holds a ticket that says "coupables de culpabilité" (French for "guilty of being guilty"). The dry verbal humor and emphasis on structure and design might earmark this title more for adults than children. Ages 3-5. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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