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Very Short Stories for Little Listeners

by Avi & illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83914-6
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Avi at his most Margaret Wise Brown–esque, in nine offbeat, gnomic tales, drawn from the 30 in his first, same-named collection (1970). Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves, these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin. In the title story, a boy and a cat compare notes about their days—“ ‘I went out West, looking for tigers. If you don’t believe me, look how dirty my hands are . . . ’ The Cat said, ‘Oh, sorry you were gone. While you were gone chasing tigers, a dragon came and ate all my food.’ ” Subsequently, a pair of girls dig “Tunnels” to China, and other tales pose such unusual problems as an elephant trying to drink water from a glass, a hippo striving to fit into a new car, and a Story searching for an end. Priceman (Little Red Riding Hood, not reviewed, etc.) also looks to her influences, with bright, swirling, vigorously brushed scenes reminiscent of color-drenched Chagall. These cheerfully unconventional, irresistibly buoyant episodes will brighten any young child’s outlook—and cheer up some adults, too. (Short stories. 4-8)