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LEOPOLD, THE LIAR OF LEIPZIG by Francine Prose

LEOPOLD, THE LIAR OF LEIPZIG

By Francine Prose (Author) , Emav Aviram (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-008075-2
Publisher: HarperCollins

A one-note “fable” extols the value of stories to an audience that probably doesn’t really need to hear it. Every Sunday, Leopold holds forth in the Leipzig zoo, telling alliterative tales of fabulous lands to the assembled multitudes: “In the country of Carthaginia cats catch caterpillars and cook them in casseroles in costly cafés.” But when Doctor Doctor Professor Morganfresser comes to town to lecture—accurately—he puts his audience to sleep. Enraged, he hauls Leopold before the courts, accusing him of lying, but Leopold has a quick comeback: “You can make up all sorts of fantastic things, and unless you say that it actually happened, or that you actually saw something—it’s only a STORY.” The learned doctor leaves town in disgrace and Leopold returns to the zoo. Leaving aside the implication that the truth must be devoid of interest, the tale’s dismissal of the power of the imagination as “only a story” seems to be at odds with the message it’s trying to send. Aviram’s textured, folk-arty illustrations are full of color and movement, in sad contrast to the text they are paired with. The subject of storytelling deserves better stories. (Picture book. 4-8)