Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind

The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind

Spring 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Heather Forest
Illustrator: Susan Gaber
ISBN: 978-0-87483-832-9
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Heather Forest's storytelling style is evident in this retelling of the Aesop fable about a contest of wills between two forces of nature. The off-again on-again rhyme in particular seems made to be sung, a hallmark of her performances. In print form, however, it makes the cadence of the text seem somewhat haphazard: just when the reader settles into a rhyming sequence, the sentences shift gears and become ordinary prose. The storyline is simple: when the Wind and the Sun see a man walking down the road, they fall into a dispute over which of them can make the man shed his coat. The wind goes first and only succeeds in making him clutch his garments closer to his body in order to stay warm. The Sun goes next and its warm rays soon have the man sitting in a shady spot in his shirtsleeves. The storyline is occasionally embellished with a poetic flight of fancy: "The birds clung to the trees. The world was dust and leaves." but on the whole, it moves along at a good clip. The illustrations are quite dramatic, veering toward abstract expressionism. The most interesting visual of all appears on the end papers: an extreme close-up of two big black shoes, a yellow road, and a delicate-almost transparent-white butterfly. It is an interesting exercise to speculate on the different ways that single picture sums up the whole of the story. An author's note refers to Aesop as the reputed author, though the choice of the word "ponderous" (with its connotation of dull and laborious) to describe the questions raised by the fable is somewhat odd...even unfortunate.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

Look for this product at:
August House Publishers, Inc.

Share This