________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007


The End.

David LaRochelle. Illustrated by Richard Egielski.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2007.
32 pp., cloth, $20.99.
ISBN 978-0-439-64011-4.

Subject Heading:
Fairy tales.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

***½ /4


The End.
And they all lived happily ever after.
They lived happily ever after because…

As one who enjoys innovation and creative thinking, I find the approach David LaRochelle and Richard Egielski have taken to the new Arthur A. Levine Books publication, The End, is a delight.

     Egielski’s artwork is framed in decorative borders, and the text was hand-lettered by Georgia Deaver. These features and the scrolls for the text suggest the stately elegance of a traditional fairy tale. As we might expect from a traditional fairy tale, we are told that the story’s heroes, the brave knight and the quick-thinking princess, do live happily ever after. This book should not, however, be dismissed as just another predictable fairy tale. The wedding couple have a wild assortment of well-wishers there to celebrate the nuptials. Perhaps someone once told the illustrator that he would get a book such as this one published “when pigs fly.” Whatever the reason, the frolicking journey through this colourful fantasy land even includes several glimpses of a flying blue pig. There are also giants, a ticklish green dragon, one hundred bunny rabbits and other assorted creatures large and small to entertain readers.
     The end. This story begins where most stories end. I am reminded of a Seinfeld (season 9) episode titled, “The Betrayal,” in which the entire episode was shown in reverse order, with the end credits running at the beginning of the show and proceeding through until the show ended with the opening credits.

internal art

     Similarly, in this book, the title page, the dedications and the publisher’s copyright information — that usually appear at the beginning of a book — all here appear at book’s end. At the start, we learn how the story ends, and we then trace back through the book to see what events “precede” that start/end. Confused? Don’t be. The book concept is more difficult to explain than to follow. Young readers and listeners will quickly understand what is going on and, like me, enjoy the clever manner in which LaRochelle and Egielski proceed.

     Richard Egielski won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1987 for the book, Hey, Al (written by Arthur Yorinks). In The End, Egielski’s colourful, soft palette artwork adds to the humour of the book, lending details that cleverly extend the story.
     Because of his dry sense of humour and the understated way in which the narrative is told, LaRochelle’s sparse text tickles the funny bone.

     In the end, The End is a fun and funny book.

Highly Recommended.

Gregory Bryan teaches children’s literature classes at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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