OLD DRY FRYE

A DELICIOUSLY FUNNY TALL TALE

An Appalachian folktale is the basis of Johnson’s story of a fried-chicken-loving preacher whose untimely demise sets into motion an tumultuous chain of events as members of his flock frantically try to absolve themselves of the non-existent crime of murder. Old Dry Frye is so well known for his capacious appetite for fried chicken that when he chokes on a bone, his hosts, a distraught farmer and his wife, are convinced that everyone will suspect them of murder. To escape condemnation, they quickly hide the body in the widow’s chicken coop; she, fearing the preacher is a poacher, bops him on the head with her frying pan. Believing she accidentally killed Frye, she quickly gets “shed of” him. And so begins the wild journey for the hapless corpse as one villager after another stumbles upon him and assumes guilt for the cause of death. Johnson’s over-the-top, humorous portrayal of the citizens’ frenzied actions and reactions rescue the tale from excessive morbidity. Although the text does not refer to it, the illustrations show Frye coughing up his chicken bone during the chaotic and hilarious denouement. Told in the melodious twang of mountain vernacular, Johnson’s story rumbles along to its own beat, an outrageously ghoulish tale to make story-hour listeners shiver. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-37658-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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AN AMISH YEAR

Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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AUNT PITTY PATTY'S PIGGY

Aylesworth and McClintock (The Gingerbread Man, 1998) tackle the story of the old woman whose pig won’t go over the stile, hindering her from going home. Here, the fat piggy is purchased at the market, but when it arrives home, it won’t go through the gate. The old woman, in this case Aunt Pitty Patty, enlists her young niece Nelly to go fetch help. Nelly implores a dog to bite the pig, a stick to hit the dog, a fire to burn the stick, water to douse the fire, etc. All the while, the piggy is parked by the gate reciting, “No, no, no, I will not go.” Aylesworth’s addition of the rhyming refrain preserves some of the cadence of the traditional tale, while softening the verbs (“hit” instead of “beat,” the rope “ties” instead of “hangs,” the butcher is to “scare” instead of “kill”) usually associated with it. McClintock emphasizes expression over action, and employs the same dainty brown line and soft watercolor wash of this team’s previous book. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-89987-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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