The Beastly Feast, illustrations by Blair Lent
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
(Starred Review) A veritable banquet of vibrant images and jocular rhymes awaits readers in this irresistible picture book, Goldstone’s first, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Lent (The Funny Little Woman). When the beasts decide to dine, a healthful and ethnically varied repast follows “mosquitoes bring burritos,” “fishes bring knishes” and “mice bring rice” (complete with chopsticks). The tasty, textured language will delight young children as they watch the parade of players with their props march across the pages. Lent layers handmade cut paper with printed patterns in a bouquet of delectable colors: salmon pink, pea green, blueberry, grape and mustard yellow. In one especially innovative spread, smiling blue fish roll boulder-like knishes while carrot-orange mosquitoes fly with burritos speared on their stingers. The early spreads introduce the dinner guests, each leading into the next (readers see the outstretched arm of a bear on the right, and turn the page to find the pear he palms), then, once the meal begins, the table starts to stretch (readers have only to revisit the cozy empty table at the opening). Chaos ensues as a puffin lands smack in the middle of a pie, a mosquito stings a fleeing antelope and mice cling to flying muffins. Animals, food, forks and text all go askew, until at last peace is restored: “The feast is done./ The beasts are full,/ so everybody claps./ The armadillos bring some pillows…/ …and everybody naps.” These collaborators cook up a scrumptious feast indeed.
The beasts have a rollicking good time in this story, which is a bit of a tongue-twister. It will have youngsters giggling as the beasts bring their treats to the feast. It is filled with lines such as, “Parrots bring carrots.” ” Mosquitoes bring burritos.” “Moose bring juice and mice bring rice.” Later in the book, the rhymes reappear, as in, “Mosquitoes, moose, mice, and parrots/Burritos, juice, rice, and carrots.” Try to read the book quickly and the laughs start. The illustrations are colorful and unusual; the artist used his own handmade color paper upon which he printed patterns with designs cut from cardboard and linoleum. Two of the illustrations are particularly amusing. The fleas struggle to bring the peas, rolling them over the clumps of grass, and the flies work together to deliver the pies. A happy blending of text and illustration.
School Library Journal
The centerpiece is arranged and the table is set, ready for The Beastly Feast. Fishes bring knishes, puffins come bearing muffins, and mosquitoes bring burritos as the guests prance and zip across the pages to this deliriously raucous food fest. Young readers will delight in the chaos that ensues when the flies’ pie crashes onto the festive table loaded with parrots’ carrots, antelopes’ cantaloupe, and other potluck dishes. They also will find it hard to resist manipulating the delicious word pairs and adding their own silly rhymes. Goldstone has created a rhyming story with a minimum of words that may remind readers of Bill Martin’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom in its exuberant beat and topsy-turvy outcome. It is Lent’s fabulous illustrations, however, that place this book in its own unique class. The artist made his own paper and then printed it with colorful patterns using cut cardboard and linoleum. The resulting lively collages and layout convey a sense of movement and excitement. The rich visual details nicely balance the simple words and add complexity to an otherwise straightforward plot. This collaboration is cause for celebration; The Beastly Feast will give youngsters lots of reasons to rejoice.
Barbara Kiefer, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
A 1998 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Medal
“The beasts are having a feast,” this beautifully crafted picture book announces, and the rapt small listener learns exactly what each beast contributes to this international, inter-species gala: i.e. “Bears bring pears”; “Mosquitoes bring burritos”; “Fishes bring knishes”, etc. Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Blair Lent provides inventive graphics made of his own handmade, brightly-colored papers, with printed patterns imposed that enliven the overall effect. By the time the “armadillos bring some pillows” we are all ready for a nap. It’s inspired nonsense for youngest listeners.
Selma G. Lanes