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Fairly Fairy Tales    by Esme Raji Codell & Elisa Chavarri Amazon.com order for
Fairly Fairy Tales
by Esme Raji Codell
Order:  USA  Can
Aladdin, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

As sometimes happens with children's picture books, this is an example of one where the art is topnotch but the text is just marginal. It's described as a set of 'fractured fairy tales', for lack of a better way of classifying it. The author, Esme Raji Codell, offers a minimalist text that focuses on a children's story.

It is assumed you recognize the story from looking at the illustrations of its main characters. Under each illustration is a single word punctuated by a question mark and a response.

For example, the first story spread features a pig building a house of sticks. 'Sticks?' appears beneath the pig followed by 'Yes.' Two more little pigs follow with the corresponding question 'Straw?' and 'Bricks?' Finally, the last illustration on the page is a solar panel. 'Solar panels?' reads the text. 'NOOOOO!'

Flip the page and at the top it reads, 'Well, maybe.' Beneath the two words is a full, two page illustration of a scene featuring a lot of pigs engaged in various activities, their house, and what appears to be a solar energy rally. Whatever!

You get the idea, I think, and this is how the entire book is developed. Though it's supposedly a question game, I'm not sure that's an apt description of what is going on here. A young child may certainly enjoy the vibrant, colorful pictures, but I doubt the book merits being lauded as clever or a 'fantastic reading experience at bedtime or anytime'. Although it is guaranteed to have your child 'laughing out loud' as he or she pages through it, I think that's wishful thinking as well.

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