18 August 2008

The Sweetest Fig - Van Allsburg

Monsieur Bibot is a cold hearted dentist. He owns a very sweet dog named Marcel who lives a hard life since Bibot doesn't care much for the poor dog.
One day Bibot arrives at his office to find an old woman in pain asking for help. In the interest of earning a few more francs he invites her in, inspects her tooth and deems it necessary to extract. After the extraction is done he is about to give her some medicine for the pain when she shows him her method of payment. Two figs. Special figs, figs that will make ones dreams come true. Infuriated he gives her no medicine and throws her out on the street.
That night before bed, he decides to eat one of the figs and finds it quite tasty. He lays down to sleep. In the morning, waking up refreshed he gets ready for work and drags his poor dog on the stairs and since Marcel's legs are so small it is hard on the little dog. Feeling good about himself, he starts to get a big head when people begin staring at him. When he reaches a cafe window he realizes why - he is in his underwear! Then he realized he was living a dream he had dreamed last night, what was the other part of his dream...and then it happens, the Eiffel Tower bends over as if it were rubber!
During the next few weeks reconstruction begins on the tower and Bibot begins delving into learning hypnosis. He realizes that the figs really do work. Bibot begins to focus on dreaming that he is rich. It becomes his life. So one day he deems that he is ready to eat the other fig...he glances at Marcel knowing that his dog wasn't coming with him, for he would have great danes instead. Turning his back to get one last thing before dinner he hears a crash of china. When he turns around he sees Marcel eating the last fig. Bibot chases the dog under the bed and goes to sleep himself very angry and heartbroken.
The next morning he is confused, why is he under the bed...then a face appears, his face! "Come to Marcel" he hears and a hand reaches down and grabs him. Bibot tries to yell but all he can do is bark.
I just loved the humor of the dog getting the fig in this book and it is always good to see good win over evil. :) Very good illustrations, realistic and simple. If you get real creative, you could buy some figs and try them with your kids to add another sense to this book.