A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that these fables are solid goofiness. If their moral is sometimes golden, it's never difficult to swallow.
What's the story?
These contemporary fables catch the dynamic duo of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith up to their old warped tricks, though they're uncharacteristically flatfooted at times. The morals are more like demented tag lines, but with an undeniable, cockeyed humor. Smith's illustrations somehow turn things like a stick of beef jerky and a slice of toast into models of lamentable behavior.
Is it any good?
The artwork is sinister and splendid in a dark way, and the book design -- as much a signature of Scieszka and Smith's books as their words and pictures -- is outlandishly active and elegant.
They specialize in subversion, the toppling of established order, the overthrow of rules and order and all that is sacred. Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith are revolutionaries, if not nihilists, and they are really good at it. Fables are the target here, but they are only poked fun at, not disemboweled, which undercuts the team's typical cruel nimbleness (and they even get a little formulaic -- but only a little, and not painfully so). But don't be surprised if you see readers filing their teeth into points after a session with this impious collection.