It's Simple, Said Simon

by Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustrations by Meilo So

Knopf, March, 2001.
Picture Book, 40 pages.
ISBN: 0375812016
Ages Baby - Preschool

It's Simple, Said Simon by Mary Ann Hoberman Like a fable, this charming story not only entertains; it opens the door for the parent or grandparent to impart some wisdom to a young person. The story begins with a young boy named Simon who is venturing out to prove himself. First he meets a dog. The dog challenges Simon to growl, so Simon growls, and the dog approves of Simon's growl. Then Simon meets a cat, and the cat challenges Simon to stretch. Simon stretches, and the cat approves. Finally, Simon meets a tiger who slyly challenges Simon to growl. Simon growls, but the tiger complains that Simon has not growled loud enough. On the third try, the tiger approves. The tiger continues with dares which Simon readily accepts. This culminates on a dare to jump up on and ride on the tiger's back. Then the tiger reveals his motive when Simon says that he will have an egg for dinner and the tiger reveals that he is planning to have a boy for dinner. Simon is able to outwit the tiger by saying that he is thirsty. The tiger takes Simon to the water and Simon tempts him to go out farther and farther. This enables Simon to swim away when the tiger admits that he cannot swim.

For obvious reasons, this little tale can be developed into a frank discussion on not trusting everyone one meets, and in the foolishness of accepting a dare. Ms. Hoberman has given us a simple tale which teaches, but does not frighten.

Meilo So has given this story sensitive, yet whimsical illustrations by the use of ink and watercolors on Indian rice paper. Blues, browns and reds characterize the more benign creatures, while the tiger is painted with bold black and orange strokes. Ms. So gives Simon's face eager and confident expressions, but the tiger slowly develops a sly and cunning smile. The effect is light, but the danger of taking dares from friendly tigers is deftly expressed in Ms. So's lovely illustrations.

--Sarah Reaves White

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This review was published in the May, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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