cover image Animal Beauty

Animal Beauty

Kristin Roskifte, trans. from the Norwegian by Jeanne Eirheim. Eerdmans, $17 (50p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5454-4

Norwegian writer Roskifte trains a laser eye on the way the fashion industry manipulates consumers—a theme more often reserved for older readers, but dealt with effectively here, aided by Eirheim’s able translation. With cheerful graphic shapes and flat colors, Roskifte portrays a zooful of animals as they pass around a visitor’s fashion magazine. “Never dress in horizontal stripes,” the zebra reads. “They’re unflattering, according to this magazine,” she explains. A panda discovers that it has dark circles under its eyes; a snake, that snakeskin is out this year. The fashion problems Roskifte creates for each animal are credible and comic (the monkey shaves in order to have “silky smooth arms and legs”), and the animals look suitably ridiculous after they’ve “fixed” their problems—especially the flamingo, who threads her long neck through the sleeve of her new gray suit, so much more grown-up and professional than childish pink. In the style of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it’s a small boy who calls their bluff. Readers won’t fail to grasp the moral of this modern fable. Ages 5–9. (Sept.)