Friday, March 4, 2011

Phileas's Fortune: a story about self-expression

School Library Journal (August 1, 2010)
K-Gr 4-A young boy lives in a strange land where people must buy and swallow the words they need in order to speak. Those who can't afford expensive words must resort to using dull, boring, discarded terms found in trash cans and gutters, and old-fashioned, useless words that go on sale. Occasionally, if they're lucky, they can catch a few good words floating in the air. Phileas desperately wants to wish his friend Cybele a happy birthday and profess his love, but unlike the bully Oscar, who has enough money to blurt out his feelings, He can't afford the right words. Instead, he smiles at her and, with all the love in his heart, utters "cherry!" "ruby!" "chimes!" Cybele doesn't have any words either, so she simply gives Phileas a kiss, to which he responds with a word he has been saving for just the right occasion: "again!" The exquisite and evocative sepia-tone paintings, highlighted with bold, vibrant reds, beautifully illustrate the poetic text and breathe life into the characters. Demonstrating that what we say is not nearly as important as how we say it, this import provides a wonderful springboard for discussing the power of words and the importance of honesty and sincerity. It will be a welcome addition to picture-book collections and useful to teachers engaged in values education.-Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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