THE BLUE JACKAL
It's been done before as a picture book, this story from the Panchatantra about a jackal who hides from dogs in a vat of blue dye and then, seeing that the other animals are awed by his strange appearance, makes himself their king. But, though Gobhai's Blue Jackal (1968) was fun, Brown's illustrations are incomparably more expressive, decorative, and forceful, and her telling is considerably tighter: where Gobhai told a folksier, fuller tale, Brown comes forth with a sharp, pointed fable. Both versions end with the jackal's giving himself away by joining the chorus of a howling jackal pack; here Gobhai's "he simply could not resist" is probably clearer than Brown's having the jackal shed "tears of joy" upon hearing the sound; and, admittedly, her appended, rhymed moral will need some explication. But the punch is here, and Brown's emphatic prints--her hellish dogs, her dynamic and elegant jungle court--magnify the impact.