This time of year brings some wonderful books to the foreground – How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Snowy Day, and especially (and rightfully so) The Polar Express. But I thought that I would take this Perfect Picture Book Friday to highlight one of Chris Van Allsburg’s less recognized but equally delightful books, The Sweetest Fig.
Title: The Sweetest Fig
Author/Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Suitable for Ages: 6-10
Themes: Dreams, Magic, and Karma
Opening and Synopsis: “Monsieur Bibot, the dentist, was a very fussy man. He kept his small apartment as neat and clean as his office. If his dog, Marcel, jumped on the furniture, Bibot was sure to teach him a lesson.” When a patient pays the miserly dentist in magic figs that will make his dreams come true, Bibot practices controlling his dreams in order to achieve a life of wealth and grandeur. However, before he finishes the figs, his mistreated dog interrupts his plans.
Why I like it: Even as a relatively well-behaved child, or perhaps especially as a well-behaved child, I was drawn to books with despicable villains. Not only is Bibot a well-developed, utterly detestable curmudgeon, but he gets what is coming to him in a way that is humorous, clever and magical. The lovable, neglected dog triumphs to make the ending deliciously satisfying.
Related Activities: The Sweetest Fig is a perfect introduction to dreams. Dreams are as fascinating to kids as they are to adults, and there is a wide range of activities revolving around them.
-Write the story of a dream or start a dream journal
-Discuss common dream interpretations and come up with your own
-Illustrate a dream, or create an illustration in abstract dreamlike style
-Create a dream that you would want to come true if you were given magic figs
-Make dream catchers
-Here is a link with more dream activities: http://dreamtalk.hypermart.net/abstracts2006/ridberg.htm
You can find more book recommendations from all kinds of bloggers and readers and add your own at http://susannahill.blogspot.com/. Thanks, Susanna, for the chance to share one of my favorites!