Monday, September 17, 2012

Never Tease a Weasel

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Never Tease a Weasel
By Jean Conder Soule
Ages 3+
Illustrated by Denman Hampson, published by Parents’ Magazine Press in 1964
Reprinted in 2007 by Dragonfly Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, with illustrations by George Booth

I am partial to tales written in verse, and this one is ingenious.

You can do nice things for animals - knit a kitten mittens, fit a fox with socks, make a goat a coat, or give a pig a wig…

“You could give a fish a dish 
For her favourite seaweed stew; 
Send three frogs some sailing togs 
And a yachting cap or two.”

I can't stop marvelling at the choice of words – they rhyme perfectly and fit right in. I love how Soule adds an extra something to the refrain - 'A weasel will not like it, And teasing isn't nice' - each time.

A simple message cloaked in a fun story with cute creatures and cheeky children.

The then 4 yo’s words of wisdom a few pages into the book - “No one likes to be teased” and a very regretful (but less truthful) “I don’t even know how to tease.”  So the next time his friend came complaining, I conjured up the book. It worked – both of them decided it’s more fun to be friends. And, surprise! The friend who has in the past said, “I don’t like reading all that much”, was giggling away and finishing lines for me!

A huge fan of nonsense verse in general and Dr. Seuss in particular, the resident four yo gave the book a thumbs-up and thinks publishing companies ought to make more books like these.

His favourite pictures in the book are of the boy wearing a mask and scaring the weasel, and the girl using a hose to wet the weasel. His parents love the self-assured expression sported by the fish waiting to be served seaweed stew.

The perky pictures that go with the cute couplets and silly situations add to the charm of this book.

The book-finder fairy was kind to me at last year’s Bangalore book fair, where I spotted a copy of this 1964 classic illustrated by Denman Hampson at the bottom of a pile. The book has been reprinted in recent years; the new edition has illustrations by the New Yorker cartoonist George Booth. Amazon lets you take a peek. I prefer the original version, maybe I’m old-fashioned?


Choxbox said...

LOL@ 'I dont even know how to tease'!

Sounds like one that would be totally yenjoyed here too :)

Arundhati said...

Chox - :)
You can borrow our copy anytime

Sheela said...

Thanks for sharing this, Arundhati. I'll have to pick this up for the resident 4-yo. And completely agree with you about story in verse, and being old-fashioned when it comes to books :)

Choxbox said...

Thanks A!

Arundhati said...

Sheela - Would love to know the 4 yo's reaction. Never tease a weasel became a chant here!

Chox - I am anti-book-lending as a rule, but in this case I know they will be in very good hands :)

Choxbox said...

Understand the anti-lending policy completely. Usually I simply buy another copy and gift it, so neither party need worry (not trying to give any hints okay!)

Subhashini said...

Wow!! Just the kind of book the kiddo would love. Thanks for the recommendation arundhati. Will start looking for this book.

Arundhati said...

Subhashini - Welcome here. Hope your little one enjoys the book :) Do keep visiting & commenting.

Subhashini said...

Thanks arundhati. Been checking out the book reviews for quite sometime. This is my first comment, though.
Will keep commenting:-)

Subhashini said...

We read the book today and the kid's been running around the house singing -
la la la ...tease, that's not very nice...

A beautiful book with a message well conveyed. Thanks to you Arundhati.

Arundhati said...

Delighted, Subhashini.
There's something even better than comments on a review - hearing from readers *after* they've taken the trouble to find a book :) Thanks!

Where did you get the book? Are the illustrations by George Booth?

Subhashini said...

This was my sister's gift to siddharth for his b'day. It's the newer edition illustrated by
George booth. Would have loved to get hold of the older edition but this should do for now:-)

And btw, we've also been reading - Is blue whale the biggest thing there is? , Where fish go in winter and The emperor's egg.

I knew the last one would be a big hit. For some reasons the kid's been fascinated by penguins and for sometime now he's been asking us to take him to Antarctica to see them. Now, after the book, he wants to stay in Antarctica for two months. What for I asked? To grow penguins, came the reply:-)

Arundhati said...

Subhashini, Anusha has reviewed some fabulous penguin books on Saffron Tree. This is my favourite penguin picture book -

Haven't read this one, but it sounds wonderful -

Subhashini said...

Interesting books...will start looking out... The kid was excited to know that there are many more books on penguins :-)

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