School Library Journal
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K-Gr 3-Whimsical, illustrated retellings of eight folktales. Though readers may not recognize these particular stories, well-known themes are all here, such as trickster characters (a rabbit convinces a lion to leap into a well to attack his own reflection in "The Foolish Lion"); tales of friendship (a dog and an elephant form an unlikely bond in the title story); and cautionary tales about greed (in "The Golden Swan," a woman plucks all the feathers from a bird, only to find them worthless in the end). By breaking the plots down into comic booklike panels and relying on the symbols of sequential art (a rain cloud over an elephant's head denotes anguish, action lines imply movement), Williams makes these potentially unfamiliar tales accessible and fun for young readers. Appropriately, characters are cartoonlike, with exaggerated facial expressions and postures. Busy, patterned backgrounds and intricate page borders rendered in brightly hued gouache and ink let these stories retain a traditional Indian tone. The text within the narration boxes and speech bubbles is concise. However, matching the comic-book format, a sly thread of humor consistently runs through these tales, such as a hungry crocodile breaking the fourth wall to quip, "Maybe I could eat a reader instead." Williams never skimps on the quirky details, and there's plenty to notice here on second and third readings. An enchanting addition to any folktale collection.-Mahnaz Dar, formerly at Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Williams turns to the classic stories of India in this companion to Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs (2011), with which it shares a comic book-style aesthetic. Food emerges as a frequent theme in eight stories of haves vs. have-nots and eat-or-be-eaten interactions: in one story, a hungry tiger persuades a man to cross a river to retrieve a lost bangle ("Here I come, my dear spicy friend," says the tiger, meeting the man halfway). Williams frames her vibrant cartoon panels with thematic borders, the best of which features the ramblings of a loquacious turtle whose motormouth is his (literal) downfall. Funny, wise, and entertaining from first page to last. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
With beautiful, intricately detailed artwork in a playful comic-book style, Williams retells eight Indian animal folktales. Elephant shakes its trunk to greet Dog, and they become close friends; then Dog is sold away, and the animals' body language shows that elephant is heartbroken until a huge double-page spread celebrates their reunion. Not every entry ends with such sweet resolution: scrawny Old Tiger tricks and eats a poor traveler; Cat pretends to be vegetarian as part of a plan to eat little birds. The simple language is elemental and eloquent: Swan, rich in both food and friends, feels bad about a poor family close by, hungry and in rags: they had so little and he had so much. But then the mother turns greedy, and there is no happy ending. Even the crocodiles in these stories have manners enough not to eat their friends. Best of all are the tales in which the trickster is outtricked, and kids will enjoy the message that wisdom can overcome physical strength. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist