cover image The Fish Who Cried Wolf

The Fish Who Cried Wolf

Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, , illus. by Axel Scheffler. . Scholastic/Levine, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-92825-0

Although their title implies an aquatic variation of the Aesop fable, Donaldson and Scheffler (creators of The Gruffalo ) turn out a different animal altogether. True, diminutive Tiddler is given to tall tales (“Sorry I'm late... on the way to school I was captured by a squid”). But while no one believes them, his stories save his life when he gets lost: a frightened Tiddler discovers that creatures have been passing on his improbable stories to one another in a kind of chain—and if he follows that chain in reverse, he'll end up right back home. Donaldson's rhyming text is crisp and clean, leaving plenty of metaphorical room for Scheffler's expansively imagined art. Always gifted at conjuring up entire worlds (even his spot illustrations feel animated and lovingly detailed), he creates an ocean effervescent with texture, color and vividly expressive personalities. And Tiddler is an excellent reader surrogate: spunky, wide-eyed and ultimately triumphant. Ages 3–5. (May)