JACOB AND THE STRANGER by Sally Derby

JACOB AND THE STRANGER

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An intriguing, beautifully honed allegory concerning Jacob, known by his actions as kind, honest, even smart--yet lazy: ``I don't like to work,'' says he. ``I like to do as I please, to...lie in the grass watching the clouds.'' Still, he finds enough odd jobs to support himself, and one day a mysterious stranger offers him the easiest of tasks: to care for his potted plant for a florin a day, but ``You must return to me all that is mine. If you don't, you will rue the day you were born.'' Soon there emerges from the plant's feathery fronds an entrancing miniature panther that is Jacob's particular companion even after dozens more buds give birth to tiny cats--ocelots, jaguars, cougars--that settle comfortably into his home. When the old man returns, the cats swarm up his clothes and into his pockets--all save the panther, which (in the best outwitting-the-devil tradition) remains with Jacob. Gore, a recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union, makes his US debut with stunning b&w illustrations in ink and acrylic: evanescent, suggestive, with the sinuous cats almost one with their shadowy backgrounds, a dreamlike aura recalling Keeping's brooding art for Garfield's The Wedding Ghost (1986), subtly dramatic characterizations, and, in the end, a sly touch of whimsical humor (this stranger, after all, reveals a benign side). An elegant piece of bookmaking; an enchanting, simple-seeming tale that contrasts provocatively with Aiken's The Shoemaker's Boy (above). (Fiction/Young reader. 6+)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-395-66897-2
Page count: 32pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994




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