cover image Soloman Leviathan

Soloman Leviathan

Ursula K. Le Guin. Philomel Books, $13.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21491-2

Le Guin tells the story of a contentious giraffe and a philosophical boa constrictor. The two of them had been living together on a ``runcible island'' until the day they found a beached boat and decided to sail to the horizon. But they have, of course, trouble reaching their destination, and despite help from a whale (who is named in the title, and who has previously eaten and spit out Jonah and Pinocchio), they are traveling to this day. This tale, one of the first stories ever written by the acclaimed Le Guin, is unusual and old-fashioned. While the writing is taut and concise, the open-ended nature of the animals' quest may leave readers with a vague, unfinished feeling. The grandiose musings seem coy in this context, and Austin's paintings, with careful borders and amusing details, don't render this entirely accessible to readers. Ages 5-9. (Nov.)