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ACKAMARACKUS by Julius Lester


Julius Lester’s Sumptuously Silly Fantastically Funny Fables

by Julius Lester & illustrated by Emilie Chollat

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-48913-5
Publisher: Scholastic

The author of What a Truly Cool World (1999) twangs his silly bone again, producing six fables that are well south of serious, though carrying kernels of truth. Several are "lost and found" tales, as in "Ellen the Eagle Finds Her Place in the World," modeling for the government—because she's afraid of heights. There's Bernard the bee, who unexpectedly finds true love even though he's lost his buzz, and "Anna the Angry Ant," who finds herself with a permanent stomach ache after losing her temper and swallowing an anaconda. Chollat makes her US debut with a set of stylized, postmodern illustrations whose bright hues are picked up by colored words or lines in the facing text. Lester's distinctive way with words is fully in evidence here—“What would a bee be without a buzz? My goodness! A bee without a buzz would be a been. A bee without a buzz would be a used-to-be bee who was now a been. So Bernard buzzed his buzz a couple of times and was happy to see that his buzz was as buzzy as it always was"—and he closes each tale with a double moral: "1. You are what you think you are and not what others think you aren't. 2. When you're in Vermont, WATCH OUT FOR THE ALLIGATOR." There's a lot of text on these oversized pages, much of it asking for a sophisticated comprehension. So the format is deceptively young-looking and might throw off the child who could understand the jokes. Readers who find Aesop's fables stodgy and Jon Scieszka's incomprehensible might want to have a go at these. (Illustrated fiction. 9-11)