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The Sweetest Fig Hardcover – Oct 25 1993
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Another great book by Chris Van Allsburg. I do an author study with my second graders and they particuarly love this book. They to hear it read with a bit of a French accent. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2004 by ardnam
This is great stuff...typical Chris Van Allsburg, filled with wonderful illustrations, sometimes surreal imagery, lots of subtle humour and something important for us to think... Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2001 by Terrie
I have two children, ages 5 and 7, and this is one of their favorite books. The story is about a mean-spirited dentist who is cruel to one of his patients, and even treats his own... Read morePublished on Oct. 15 1999
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