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THE RUMOR by Jan Thornhill


A Jataka Tale from India

Jan Thornhill

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 1-894379-39-X
Publisher: Firefly

Thornhill (Before and After, 1997, etc.) retells the ancient “sky is falling!” tale informally: being a “worrywart,” a hare is startled into believing that the world is breaking up when a mango falls behind him. Soon he’s joined in his flight by 999 more hares, plus “a thousand boars,” “a thousand deer,” and “a thousand tigers,” etc.—all of whom are stopped in their tracks by a calm lion, who gets to the cause of the panic and leaves everyone “pretty embarrassed.” Frames set off Thornhill’s increasingly crowded paintings, which in composition, as well as delicacy of natural detail, resemble Demi’s Indian-flavored art, though not as delicately. In each frame, the mango is dominant, but careful observers will note that the background echoes the palm grove or thicket or marsh of each new animal to join the throng. The telling is arch and clever, pitched just right for reading aloud with a grin, though the final scene of the thousands of animals returning to their habitat might be hard for a group to see without getting close. Not a replacement for Rafe Martin’s Foolish Rabbit’s Big Mistake, illustrated by Ed Young (1985), this does have a slightly different focus as, beyond the tale itself, the cast is composed of endangered Indian animals, all of whom are introduced at the end with a note about their loss of habitat. (Picture book/folk tale. 5-8)