cover image Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes

Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes

Margie Palatini, , illus. by Barry Moser. . S&S, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80246-1

While this variant of Aesop's “The Fox and the Grapes” is decidedly more entertaining than the original, the moral of the fable is less clear. Palatini's distinctive characters are all amiable, except for the condescending Fox, who prides himself on being “Sly. Clever. Smart.” With expert watercolors, Moser (who collaborated with Palatini on The Three Silly Billies ) subtly retains the lifelike appearances of the animals without sacrificing individualistic expression. Fox's enthusiastic plans to get the grapes are filled with convoluted equations and graphs: “Bear stands—here. Beaver stands on Bear's head—there. Porcupine stands on Beaver's tail. I stand on Porcupine.... Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.... and—voila ! Grapes!” When the other characters explain their infinitely simpler plans to get the grapes, Fox turns “with a huff and a sniff” and says, “I, for one, wouldn't think of eating those lousy, rotten, stinkin' grapes now.” The traditional sour grapes ending feels tacked on, given the “Pride goeth before a fall” theme Palatini effectively develops throughout the story. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)