THE WISHING FOXES
Kirkus Reviews ● Posted 1/19/2017 12:00 am
MacDonald and the Whitmans offer an Appalachian version of "The Kind and the Unkind Girls."
When kindly Bess is sent to fetch water from the Well-at-the-End-of-World, she politely greets the bear, mountain lion, wild boar, and three foxes she meets along the way, even washing the foxes’ faces as they request. In return they reward her. But when her ill-tempered sister, Tess, is sent, she behaves rudely; her repayment is quite different. Modern listeners may wonder if nothaving to go for water might not be a reward rather than a punishment, but the traditional tale is told smoothly and effectively, with a lively, folksy lilt. MacDonald and the Whitmans provide a clear explanation of their sources; they even suggest a tune for those reading aloud to use to sing Bess’ and Tess’ refrains. The text is set directly on Harvill’s stylized illustrations, mostly double-page spreads done with watercolor and cut-paper collage that use page turns effectively and show well. The animals’ facial expressions and body language reflect their reactions. Both sisters are white; Bess has curly, strawberry-blonde hair, while Tess has lank, brown hair. Endpapers with diamonds, gold coins, toads, and kernels of corn reflect the consequences of the girls’ behavior. MacDonald and the Whitmans previously collaborated on Teaching with Story (2013).
Welcome wherever folk tales are popular. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)