This eclectic volume of four slightly offbeat tales doesn't measure up to its own intentions. Clearly Janosch has in mind the kind of diverting anthology that children will want to dip into again and again. But none of these four stories is exceptionally attractive. The first, ""The Cricket and the Mole,"" describes the plight of a cricket who spends all summer playing her fiddle and so has no food when winter comes. A mole takes her in and enjoys her sweet music and lively company; they live happily ever after. In ""The Goose Opera,"" a gaggle of geese trick a fox who had planned to eat them. They bring about his death, skin him and use his fur to keep warm. ""Jack the Lion"" is a series of couplets about a hapless lion: ""Jack the Lion may be found/riding a horse the wrong way round."" ""Robinson Hare"" is an adventurous fellow who leaves home to fend for himself. When he eventually returns home, his family greets him with open paws. The pen-and-wash illustrations, reminiscent of Tony Ross' work, are appealing but so small (the book is only 6(apple)"" x 4"") that details are lost. Borrowing themes and techniques from fable and folklore, Janosch loses much in the transition. There's nothing offensive here, but neither is there much to recommend.
Pub Date: July 1, 1987
Page Count: 67
Publisher: Century Hutchinson--dist. by David & Charles