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The Sweetest Fig [Hardcover]

Chris Van Allsburg
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 25.50
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Book Description

Oct. 25 1993
"These figs are very special," the woman whispered. "They can make your dreams come true." -- Thus Monsieur Bibot, the cold-hearted dentist, was given two ordinary-looking figs as payment for extracting a tooth from an old woman's mouth. Monsieur Bibot refused to believe such nonsense and proceeded to eat one of the figs for a bedtime snack. Although it was possibly the finest, sweetest fig he had ever tasted, it wasn't until the next morning that Monsieur Bibot realized it indeed had the power to make his dreams come true. While dragging his poor dog, Marcel, out for his walk, he discovered that his strange dream from the night before was becoming all too real. Determined to make good use of the second fig, Monsieur Bibot learns to control is dreams. But can he control Marcel? Once again Chris Van Allsburg explores the mysterious territory between fantasy and reality in an uncanny tale that will intrigue readers of all ages.

Frequently Bought Together

The Sweetest Fig + The Stranger + The Wretched Stone
Price For All Three: CDN$ 47.97

  • The Stranger CDN$ 15.99
  • The Wretched Stone CDN$ 15.99

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Van Allsburg swings back into his most mystifying mode with this enigmatic, visually sophisticated tale of Monsieur Bibot, a "very fussy" French dentist who is given a pair of magic figs as a form of payment by an impoverished patient. The fruit, he's told, has the power to make dreams come true. The pragmatic Bibot scoffs at this, of course, but learns otherwise after eating one. Accordingly, he makes plans to use the second fig to become the richest man on earth (and to ditch Marcel, his oppressed terrier, for a string of Great Danes). The images in the book are unsettling, even ominous: Bibot lurking in a doorway with a rolled-up newspaper, ready to punish Marcel; Bibot gleefully clutching a pair of pliers as he prepares to extract an old woman's tooth; a frowning Bibot standing, fists clenched in anger, as his patient offers him the figs instead of cash. The dentist is a thoroughly unsympathetic character; readers will rejoice when the long-suffering Marcel gobbles the second magic fig and, in a poetically just ending, reverses the master-slave relationship. The sepia-toned illustrations are classic Van Allsburg, offering a visual study that is downright psychological; the artwork's spare lines and clean surfaces reflect the obsessively orderly Bibot's nature. Adults will appreciate Van Allsburg's acuity, while many children will relish the darker aspects of his story. A significant achievement. All ages.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up-Another quietly bizarre and stunning picture book from Van Allsburg. In this modern fairy tale, a Parisian dentist (a prissy and sadistic man who even hates his own dog) is given two magic figs by an old woman who tells him, "'They can make your dreams come true.'" Bibot scoffs. However, after the first fig proves to do exactly that (in a scene in which the dentist walks down the street in his underwear, and then the Eiffel Tower droops over), he realizes how precious they are. Night after night, he hypnotizes himself into dreaming that he is the richest man on earth. Finally, he prepares to eat the second fig. But his dog, Marcel, beats him to it, and the following morning, the dentist wakes up as the helpless pup under a bed, with his own face calling to him, "'Time for your walk. Come to Marcel.'" The Sweetest Fig is a superb blend of theme, language, and illustration, with a very grabbing plot as well. The writing is formal yet direct, using simple, deliberate vocabulary to match the elegant setting and mood. The shades of gray, cream, and brown and the calm, stable design enhance this mood. The angle at which readers view scenes is always intriguing and heightens their involvement. Most children old enough to read this complex book on their own will be fascinated and will return to it again and again. Van Allsburg at his best.
Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Monseuir Bigot. A dentist, a picky snooty stuck up dentist, to be precise. He lives simply, with his small terrier who is not even allowed to bark, and his profession. One day as he is sitting in his office, an old woman comes into his building with a horrid toothache, she has no appointment, but he decides he could use a few extra francs. (he lives in france)He pulls her tooth out, and when he asks for payment, she hands him two figs, and says that they will make his dreams come true. he sends her from his office, and goes home. Later that night he has one of the figs, as a dinnertime snack. When he wakes up he finds that his dream had come true that he had dreamt the night before. He then hynotizes himself for weeks so he can control his dreams, the night he plans to eat the fig and become rich and famous, his dog eats the fig. he wakes up the next morning under his bed... bieng told to go for a walk...
Chris van alsburg has the best ironic childrens books. I really enjoyed how this one played out. The illustrations are as good as you would expect from a van alsburg book, especially well done are the peoples facial expressions.This is a book i would definately recomend to a friend, not nessesarily a younger reader but preferably someone who can read fairly well, its somewhere in between a chapter book and an easy reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What if... When You Slept, Your Dreams Came True? Jan. 18 2003
Chris Van Allsburg's book, THE SWEETEST FIG, is an exquisitely illustrated book that raises the fascinating question, "What if... when you slept, your dreams came true?"
This story tells the tale of a mean-spirited dentist, Monsieur Bibot, who lives in Paris, France, with only his small, white dog for a companion. When Bibot receives as payment two small figs from an old woman who can't afford to pay him for his dental services, he is furious. The woman tells Bibot that these figs are special... "they can make your dreams come true." Dreams are clearly something that Bibot cares little for... that is, until he discovers that the old woman was telling him the truth. When he finds himself standing outside a restaurant dressed only in his underwear, and the Eiffel Tower bending down as if it were made of rubber -- he rushes home and begins practicing the art of controlling his dreams. Bibot's attempt to overly-control his life takes a surprising turn, and this story vividly illustrates the point that greed and self-absorption can ruin a man's life.
Because the artwork in this book is so exceptionally good and the moral of the story is so delightful, this is one book that parents will love to read to their children again and again!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do Dreams Come True? June 13 2002
Bibot, the French Dentist, is a mean cold-hearted man. He treats his small dog Marcel badly. He does not allow the dog to sit on the furniture, sniff the trees at the park or even bark. One day an old woman shows up at his dental office with a toothache. Bibot pulls the tooth and is horrified when she pays him in figs. "These figs are special," she whispers. "They can make your dreams come true." She winks at him and puts her finger to her lips. Bibot believes she's crazy.
Get ready to enter a twilight zone fantasy in Chris Van Allsburg's, "The Sweetest Fig". These perfectly-fitted illustrations come alive as you read the text of the story. A gifted storyteller as well as an artist Allsburg also supplied the illustrations.
I loved the story but I had a problem with Bibot owning a dog. This man was not a dog lover. Why did he even own a dog? I can't say. But I know the dog is crucial to the story. I could see Bibot with a dog if he were forced to keep him. For example, maybe his mother goes out of town occasionally to visit relatives and only wants her beloved son to take care of Marcel. I don't think he'd say no to his mom. She's probably the only one who loves him.
I just hate the fact that this man owns a dog. I'm a dog lover and yes I know this is only fiction. That's how much the story affected me. I still enjoyed the book. I purchased it six or seven years ago when I lived in San Francisco. Read it if you love stories like "The Twilight Zone". You won't be disappointed. This book is for all ages.
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What more could you ask for? The Sweetest Fig is the story of French Dentist named Bibot who is given two seemingly ordinary figs as payment for dental services rendered. The old woman who gives Bibot the figs tells him that the figs can "make your dreams come true." As the story progresses, it keeps the audiences attention easily. Most of the classes I have read this to (3rd & 4th Grade) seem to think the results of Bibot's first dream are hilarious and are eager to hear the outcome. The ending is rather abrupt but satisfying where Bibot gets his just rewards. Overall, Van Allsburg does a magnificent job (as always) both authoring and illustrating this intriguing tale. Highly recommended for 3rd and 4th grade students.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Sweetest Fig May 20 2004
By A Customer
The Sweetest Fig story takes place in Paris, France. Monsiur Bibot, the coldhearted dentist, helped a patient who had a toothache. After Bibot helped her, all she could pay him with were two magical figs. In disbelief, Bibot took the figs and shoved her out of his office. When Bibot went home, he decided to eat one of the figs as an evening snack. It was the seetest fig Bibot had ever tasted, it just wasn't until the next morning that Monsieur Bibot realized it indeed was so magical that it had the power to make your dreams come true.
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