Imagine Rumpelstiltskin with an equally imperious twin, and you’d approximate Take and Give, a tiny pair who bedevil a farmer with conflicting advice.
Borrowing motifs and pacing from traditional folklore, Raschka introduces a mild man intent on harvesting apples. First Take emerges, promising a “finer” life. When a neighbor woman offers the farmer some of her pumpkins, Take urges, “Take them. Take all of them. Take as many as you see.” Hauling a voluminous load of pumpkins, the farmer trudges all day at Take’s pointless urging to “take a hike.” Returning home to make the pumpkin soup the neighbor had suggested, the exhausted fellow realizes that he and his dog both dislike it. Next morning, having banished Take, the farmer picks a second tree, only to be visited by Give, who promises a “sweeter” life. Give similarly beleaguers the farmer, making him relinquish all his apples to a pig farmer. The third harvest day, the tiny duo’s argumentative wrestling sparks new ideas for the farmer. He gives the miller apples and takes some flour, and soon, a happy ending (and a lovely pie) is shared by all. Raschka’s customary thick, dry, brushy black shapes and contours dominate a rather somber palette of gray, red, teal and orange. This marriage of a well-told, folklore-reminiscent tale, dynamic line and muted palette evoke the 1950s-era work of Paul Galdone and Nicolas Mordvinoff.
Inventive as ever. (Picture book. 4-8)