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IT COULDN’T BE WORSE! by Vlasta van Kampen


by Vlasta van Kampen & illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55037-782-5
Publisher: Annick Press

Van Kampen (A Drop of Gold, not reviewed, etc.) brings her illustrative and retelling talents to a classic folktale retold earlier by Margot Zemach (It Could Always Be Worse, 1977). Although Zemach kept the Rabbi in the Yiddish variant, van Kampen puts a fishmonger in that role—that of the wise person whose advice is sought. The farmer and his wife need a solution for the noise and quarreling among their six children and grandparents in a one-room house. The fishmonger advises them to bring a goat into their home and promises things will be better, but when that doesn’t happen, he advises them to take sheep into their home. Soon there is a menagerie of animals and all of the people inside. The noise and chaos that result do little to “make things better.” The fishmonger finally tells the farmer’s wife to remove the animals and the environment in the house does become “much better” thanks to the very wise fishmonger. Van Kampen adds pictures of individual animals or characters on white backgrounds within the text adjacent to larger pictures that flow across double-paged spreads drawing the reader into the story. Several traditional, double-paged spreads are interspersed throughout as well. Beautiful illustrations complementing a very satisfying retelling make this a winner for the youngest of listeners and for older readers as well. (Picture book/folktale. 4-9)