Age Range: 10 & up
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 By a Chilean-born author (a political exile now living in Spain) and a Norwegian artist and film-maker, a fable concerning totalitarianism. The ``Little General'' rules through a town crier who falsely proclaims that violence holds sway outside the village while peace prevails within it, and by his own tantrums, when he spouts pure nonsense (``Rodisflankis!! Conical gransifolopods!!''). Himself illiterate, he's banned reading--and printing. Still, old Pl†cido, in his basement full of books, has some unusual canaries: with letters attached to their toes, they print leaflets on liberty. Pl†cido is discovered and jailed, but is allowed to keep his canaries, their secret intact. Meanwhile, soldiers sweep up all printed matter and burn it, to no avail: the general's ignorance is now common knowledge, while even the clouds rain down ink that forms itself into new letters--and stripes on the general, making him a laughingstock. Jorvald's illustrations, with their police-state images, cozy, pleasant- looking villagers (especially the patient printer and his books), collages of newsprint in several languages, and ubiquitous letters are handsomely designed and integral to the contrast here between ignorance/brutality/barrenness and knowledge/kindness/nurturing. Less dogged and simplistic than most such fables, with a welcome light touch and enough logical ambiguities to give older children plenty to ponder and discuss. (Picture book. 10+)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8050-2765-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993