________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 13 . . . . March 1, 2002

cover The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button: A Hungarian Folktale.

Celia Barker Lottridge. Illustrated by Joanne Fitzgerald.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88899-433-5.

Subject Headings:

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4


The sultan was so furious he couldn't think. He stamped his feet and waved his arms.

"What shall I do with this little rooster?" he shouted. "WHAT SHALL I DO?"

"Lock him in the dungeon," said one servant.

"Sell him at the market," said another.

"I know," said the third.

"You should SIT on him!"

"That's it," said the sultan. "I'll sit on him."

The three servants caught the little rooster and put him on the carved chair where the sultan liked to sit. And the greedy sultan SAT on him.

But the little rooster said, "Come, my full stomach. Come, my full stomach. Let out all the bees." His full stomach let out all the bees.

And did they sting the greedy sultan? THEY DID. The sultan jumped up.

"Ow!" he said. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" Then he shouted at the three servants. "Take this little rooster and give him what he wants. I never want to see him again!"

Two award-winning creators of children's books have teamed up to bring this little-known Hungarian folktale to Canadian children. Celia Barker Lottridge has drawn on her experience as a storyteller and created a well-paced, humourous story that begs to be read aloud. Joanne Fitzgerald's softly textured illustrations, with their interlocking borders, visually bring the story to life.

inside art

     Little Rooster lives with a woman so poor he often has to scratch for his own supper in the road. One day he discovers a diamond button, but, before he can bring it home, a greedy sultan carries it off to his palace. Little Rooster follows, determined to retrieve it and, despite the sultan's repeated efforts to dispose of him, the rooster reappears demanding his diamond. The exasperated sultan finally capitulates, and the rooster brings home to his surprised mistress not just one diamond button but as many as he could hold.

     Fitzgerald reflects the sultan's mild methods of ridding himself of the pesky rooster, such as placing him in a beehive, with her gentle use of colour and expression. In the borders framing the full and double-page pictures, she has embedded small images that mirror aspects of that page's content. She also includes a recurring green lizard, and observant children, who may be used to finding the tiny mouse in Good Night Moon, will delight in locating the little lizard on the palace walls. Except in one close-up of him discovering the diamond, the little rooster is placed next to large people. In this way, Fitzgerald emphasizes his relative small size and the enormity of his final achievement.

     In all, this classic tale of the underdog (here the rooster) besting the mighty (the greedy sultan) will strike a gleeful chord with young listeners who are all too familiar with a lack of power in the face of authority. Storytellers should add this gem to their repertoire and parents be prepared to hear "Read it again!"

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's NF.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364