cover image One Gift Deserves Another

One Gift Deserves Another

Joanne F. Oppenheim. Dutton Books, $13 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-525-44975-1

Two brothers have temperaments as different as their fortunes: the rich brother is selfish and greedy, his impecunious sibling just the opposite. When an enormous turnip grows in the poor brother's garden, he makes a present of it to the king, who repays this spontaneous act of generosity ``by making the poor brother and his wife richer than they ever dreamed.'' The wealthy brother, ``green with envy,'' decides to similarly curry his monarch's favor; in exchange for all his assets, he is given ``a treasure beyond compare'': the incomparable turnip. Oppenheim's lively retelling of this Brothers Grimm tale captures its delicious ironies while lining out its tasty moral. Zaunders's cartoonish illustrations heighten the humor, by comically exaggerating the differences in dress, station, expression and comportment between the two families. The pictures are awash in color and engaging peripheral touches, from the opulent furnishings of the rich brother to the interactions of the folk who have come to gape at the stupendous vegetable--making this a lavish feast indeed. This version is more lighthearted--and briefer--than Walter de la Mare's elegant retelling (review, p. 70), though equally successful. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)