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The Very Persistent Gappers of Fripby George Saunders and Lane Smith
Synopses & Reviews
Gappers will get your goat. Literally. If you don't brush them off and return them to the ocean, whence they arrive every day, these bright orange, many-eyed creatures will cover your goats, and the goats will stop giving milk.
In a village called Frip, goat's milk was the entire economy. Three families lived there--the Romos, the Ronsens, and a little girl named Capable and her widowed father, who wanted everything to remain the same. It didn't. One day, the Gappers, despite an average IQ of 3.7 (±.02), decided for a good reason to concentrate on Capable's goats. Oh, how the Romos and Ronsens turned their backs on the gapper-ridden Capable! Oh, how they indeed lorded it over her! What kinds of creatures are we, one wonders, when such selfishness so often springs up so spontaneously among us?
And, given the coldness of her neighbors' shoulders, what will Capable do about her Gapper plague, as her share of the economy dries up? Literally. The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, with a brilliant story by award-ridden short-story master George Saunders and fifty-two haunting and hilarious illustrations by bestseller-plagued artist/author Lane Smith, answers that question. In doing so it tells a tale as ancient as the Bible and as modern as a memo from the Federal Reserve Board. And funnier than both--which isn't saying all that much, admittedly. You don't get to laugh and gaze in visual awe and pleasure all that often when the Golden Rule comes under such serious attack and such staunch defense as it did in Frip.
An adult story for children, a children's story for adults, an earthlings' story for aliens, an oceanside fable for the landlocked, a capitalist tool for anarchists, a fish story for loaves, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip represents the classic instant of two young geniuses colliding and colluding. The result is--what else?--an instant classic!
Saunders's (Pastoralia) idiosyncratic voice makes an almost perfect accompaniment to children's book illustrator Smith's (The Stinky Cheese Man) heightened characterizations and slightly surreal backdrops in this unconventional fairy tale for grownups. Saunders describes the setting, the town of Frip, as "three leaning shacks by the sea," which Smith represents as oblong two-story towers in brick red, ocean blue and mint green situated on irregular plots of land with sinewy trees against a yellow sky that suggest a Daliesque eerieness. The 1,500 gappers, spiky little creatures with multiple eyes, feed on the goats that graze the shacks' backyards; by habit, they split into three groups to attack all three properties at once. One day, the gappers decide that henceforth they will concentrate all their efforts on the goats at only one house, the one closest to the seaAinhabited by a girl, Capable, and her grieving, widowed father. Soon, the two unafflicted families begin to tell themselves that they are superior to Capable and her father ("Not that we're saying we're better than you, necessarily, it's just that, since gappers are bad, and since you and you alone now have them, it only stands to reason that you are not, perhaps, quite as good as us"). Of course it's only a matter of time until everybody's luck changes. The Saunders-Smith collaboration is inspired. Smith adds witty touches throughout, and Saunders's dialogue features uncannily amusing deadpan repetitions and platitudinous self-exculpations. Saunders is much too hip to bring this fable to an edifying ending, but things do conclude as happily as is possible in the morally challenged, circumscribed world of Frip. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This delightful story is lavishly illustrated and the text and the pictures complement one another perfectly." School Library Journal
Three families live in the seaside village of Frip — the Romos, the Ronsens, and a little girl named Capable and her widowed father. The townspeople of Frip make their living raising goats, but they must fight off a daily invasion of gappers, bright orange, many-eyed creatures that cover goats and stop them from giving milk. When the gappers target Capable's goats, the Romos and the Ronsens turn their backs on the gapper-ridden Capable. What will Capable do about her gapper plague? An imaginative tale by acclaimed author George Saunders accented with haunting illustrations by award-winning illustrator Lane Smith, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is an adult story for children, a children's story for adults, an oceanside fable for the landlocked, a fish story for loaves, and a fable about the true meaning of community.
Sure to become an instant classic, this groundbreaking collaboration between two of America's brightest and most surprising talents is a gorgeously illustrated, modern fairy tale for adults and future adults, which tells a story about hard work, bad neighbors, and the Golden Rule. Full color.
About the Author
Author: George Saunders is the author of two short-story collections, Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Heming-way Award. His work has received two National Magazine Awards and three times been included in O. Henry Awards collections. In 1999 he was chosen by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers age forty and under. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
Illustrator: Lane Smith has illustrated several number-one national bestsellers, including The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, The Stinky Cheese Man, Dr. Seuss's Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, and James and the Giant Peach. Smith has twice won The New York Times's Best Illustrated Book of the Year and in 1992 the Caldecott Honor. He is married to Molly Leach, the designer of this and many other books.
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