cover image THE SNAKE'S TALES


Marguerite W. Davol, , illus. by Yumi Heo. . Scholastic/Orchard, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-31769-6

A smooth-tongued snake takes on the role of tempter—and raconteur—in a pleasing original story inspired by a Native American folktale. "Once upon the time of no stories," begins Davol (The Paper Dragon), creating and maintaining an appropriately timeless aura. On separate occasions, siblings Beno and Allita are individually sent by their mother to gather fruit for the family. Each encounters a sly snake that offers to tell them stories in return for the fruit they've just picked. As neither child has ever heard a story before, each accepts the snake's offer and is regaled with various myths and dramatic accounts. Mama and Papa, while deprived of strawberries and raspberries, are eventually rewarded with the entertaining fare that Beno and Allita have collected instead. Davol's folktale rhythm and simple imagery are just right for a tale about the origin of story. Heo (One Sunday Morning) creates a smiling, blank-eyed clan that recall wooden dolls. Her cheerfully cluttered pencil-and-oil compositions hum with activity. Drawing her subjects first—people, chickens, fireflies, apple trees—then painting background colors around them and leaving bits of white paper exposed, Heo gives her work extra pop. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)