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ALBERIC THE WISE by Norton Juster


by Norton Juster & illustrated by Leonard Baskin

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1992
ISBN: 0-88708-243-2

 A leisurely, philosophical tale that first appeared as the title story in a 1965 collection. Alberic is a competent farmer, neither happy nor sad, with no particular opinion of the skills he uses to maintain himself. A passing stranger who speaks eloquently of the world's wonders stirs him to action, and he sets out to become a glassmaker, but after two years he ``fails'': he has learned much, but his work is not beautiful. For years, he masters one craft after another but is never a success in his own eyes or anyone else's until suddenly his accumulated knowledge is noticed and he's judged to be wise--a reputation his honest best efforts fail to dispel until he dumbfounds his new admirers by leaving his honors and setting out once more: ``It is much better to look for what I may never find than to find what I do not really want.'' Baskin (Hosie's Alphabet, 1973 Caldecott Honor) contributes subtle, elegantly designed portraits and architectural vignettes, rich in unusual color contrasts, with a mature, intellectual tone suggesting that--like many of Barry Moser's books--this will be most enjoyed by YAs and adults. Still, this long, ironic fable may also appeal to young people who enjoy the apt use of language, especially admirers of Juster's classic The Phantom Tollbooth. Handsome, gracefully written, and eminently discussable. (Fiction. 10+)