Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: The Best of the Bargain

(Reclaimed from Blogjob, where its tags were book by celebrity illustratorchildren’s bookJanina Domanskapicture bookPolish folk arttraditional folk tale.)

(While waiting for comments on the idea of posting a review of a very "adult" book here--the kind that's actually about late adolescents--I'll post a review of a children's book. Yes.)
Author: Janina Domanska
Date: 1977
Publisher: Greenwillow / William Morrow
ISBN: 0-688-84062-0
Length: pages not numbered
Illustrations: colorful unrealistic paintings by the author
Quote: “‘Which half will you take—the half that grows above the ground or the half that grows below the ground?’
“‘I would like the upper half,’ Olek replied.
“‘We will plant potatoes,’ decided Hugo.”
In this Polish version of a widely known folktale, Hugo is a sly, slinky fox, and Olek is a slow-witted, slow-moving hedgehog. When they go into partnership, Olek gets cheated every time until he smartens up and decides to stop trying to work with Hugo.
Similar stories are found in many cultures, featuring different crops in different parts of the world. Sometimes the characters are human; sometimes they're identified with the traditional trickster figure in the culture. In much of Europe the fox is a trickster character, as in this picture book.
A purple fox and a pink-and-orange hedgehog will turn some children off, and may even reappear in the nightmares of children who have a lot of anxieties in waking life. Others will enjoy them. Vivid paintbox colors are said to be a Polish folk-art tradition; this book is recommended to all who like its kind of pictures.
Janina Domanska was a very popular illustrator who experimented with lots of different artistic styles while drawing the covers and pictures for a wide range of children's books. I recommend Googling her name and clicking on "More Images" if you want to see a huge variety of colorful, cheerful eye candy. In addition to the wacky cartoon style of The Best of the Bargain, she painted realistic images to go with realistic stories, and graphics inspired by traditional needlework...you have to see it.
 
Domanska no longer has any use for a dollar, which is 10% of the price you need to send to either address at the very bottom of the screen to buy it here. (The Best of the Bargain is found on different Amazon pages, some of them better indexed than others. If you click on the picture, you'll reach a page that's correctly indexed and see a range of prices for books in a range of conditions. "New" first editions of this book are selling for over $100. What I'll buy and re-sell are gently used copies, which are more affordable.) As usual, you send $5 per copy + $5 per package + $1 per online payment; if you order more than one book at a time, you pay only $5 for shipping the entire package. This means that if you order another book that is a Fair Trade Book (the author is still alive) we can consider the shipping for this book free, and send $1 to the living author or the charity of his or her choice.