Written by Terry Jones
Illustrated by Michael Foreman
Animal Tales is a lovely collection of short stories, perfect for reading aloud to the third grade crowd. Each tale is filled with humor, absurdity, and lessons with a careful delivery that will appeal to readers of all ages.
“The Frog That Found A Fortune” is about a nervous little frog who finds what he believes to be a long lost diamond from the Crown of England. Readers are taken on a wild ride as the frog imagines himself being rewarded for it’s return with barrow loads of slugs that lead him to become a virtual slug baron. But then, as frog starts to worry about all the barriers that might stand in the way of getting the diamond back to Buckingham Palace, a magpie steals the precious jewel forcing the unusually sensible frog to realize that life is good in his lovely, damp hedge and that the magpie has just saved him a whole lot of trouble.
This is just one of the circus like tales that put animals in human like situation and unlikely partnerships. There’s Bear and Skunk, who save each others lives through love and gratitude, overcoming their differences to become the odd couple. There’s Jack the Rabbit and Old Mr. Fox, Crocodile and Tiger…
Written as legends in a wonderful story-telling voice that often addresses the reader, these Animals Tales are made to be shared. The morals and lessons presented in each story are multi-faceted and complex, lending themselves to vibrant post-read discussion. Not all the endings are happy. Not all the messages are direct. But every story begs to be explored.
In addition to giving readers something to think about and enhancing comprehension, the stories help boost vocabulary with the seamless insertion of words such as IGNONIMY and INSATIABLE. North American readers will also be introduced to British expressions such as trousers and petrol.
The stories are dispersed with lovely anthropomorphic pictures. My favorite is the image of badger (an old, misunderstood war hero) teetering on a ladder above his store with an array of groceries and bratty kids shown in delightful detail below. Similar pictures accompany the paragraph long “Wonders of the Animal Kingdom” captions (The Transylvanian Limping Bat, Electric Wombats, Money Salamanders, The Fake Elk, Bendy Giraffes, The Mongolian Deep Fried Bat.. ) which read like news editorials, spoof ads and short entries from an animal encyclopedia of the absurd.
There is truly something for everyone in this wonderful collection, with laugh out loud outrageousness that will have kids rolling with laughter to clever humor that adults will find difficult to explain. “The Amazing Terry Jones Presents…” includes two other titles, Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories, that are also available in hardback and ebook – equally perfect for the classroom or sitting around the campfire.