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Fox
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Gr 3 Up-The simplicity of presentation belies the sophistication of this allegorical tale that demonstrates the tremendous power of caring and friendship. Dog, blinded in one eye, finds Magpie, whose wing has been burned in a forest fire. He carries her to his cave, but she is distraught and bitter because she can no longer fly. Dog is a true and patient friend and an optimist, and his encouragement lifts the bird's spirits. ("I will be your missing eye, and you will be my wings," Magpie declares.) Enter dashing, flattering Fox, full of "rage and envy and loneliness," who attempts to destroy the friendship by luring Magpie away. In this short tale, Wild conveys some of the stages of human grief-anger, depression, and withdrawal and, finally, acceptance. Brooks's dramatic illustrations perfectly suit the text. Thick, textured paint in shades of brown, peachy beige, and bluish gray, detailed in black line and frequent scratchboardlike technique, sets off the rich, fiery tone of Fox's fur and allows readers to sense the excitement and danger that his presence engenders in Magpie. The text is hand lettered in large, childish print, sometimes on pasted paper scraps. Use the book with younger children to prompt discussions of both friendship and loss; use it with older students as a fine example of allegory and outstanding artistic presentation.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Wild (Nighty Night) departs from her playful characters of recent books for this haunting look at friendship and cruelty, geared to older readers. After Dog saves Magpie from a fire and nurses her burnt wing, the two forge a powerful bond. The one-eyed dog and the flightless bird travel together across a charred, leafless landscape, with Magpie feeling the wind in her feathers as she rides on Dog's back. "Fly, Dog, fly! I will be your missing eye, and you will be my wings." The mood changes quickly, however, when Fox enters his sleek, orange body curled around one side of a spread and sets Magpie on edge ("His smell seems to fill the cave a smell of rage and envy and loneliness"). The tension Wild invokes in juxtaposing their disparate emotions creates a disquieting feeling that Brooks (Rosie and Tortoise) mirrors in his artwork, especially in close-ups of the characters' eyes. His hand-lettered text (resembling a child's shaky penmanship) appears in oddly positioned blocks, with some flipped vertically against the page edges and gutter. The stark illustrations, in mixed media and collage, expose the characters' raw emotions with brusque hash marks in thick applications of mostly dark paint. Only when Fox cons Magpie into switching her allegiance and traveling with him do readers discover the depth of Fox's alienation. The tale ends on a tenuously hopeful note, and the images from this unsettling, provocative story will resonate long after the book has been closed. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

..". this haunting look at friendship and cruelty ... ends on a tenuously hopeful note, and the images from this unsettling, provocative story will resonate long after the book has been closed."

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