(December 22, 2003; 0-439-37724-2)
Zemach (The Character in the Book) applies her cozy, colorful illustrations to this tale of a fiddler whose short bout with greed wakes him to the meaning of true contentment. Simon is "perfectly happy" keeping house, spending time with friends and playing his fiddle until he abruptly decides one day he doesn't have enough. "I want more!" he exclaims from atop his sole wooden chair, the shout arching over his head in large, blue typeface. While no reason is given for this sudden change of heart, readers will enjoy the ensuing repetitive narrative alongside animated vignettes of him stockpiling more stuff. "So, Simon got another chair. And another, and another, and then a few more." The pattern continues with hats and stuffed animals, as warm-hued watercolor and gouache illustrations depict the increasingly crowded abode. At once modest in their composition and involved in their variety of colors, patterns and textures (e.g., a blowzy floral motif on a chair, a cotton-candy pink braided rug), Zemach's light and bright paintings-complete with rosy-cheeked characters-maintain a cheerful mood. Realizing his added possessions fail to deliver lasting happiness as they clutter his simple lifestyle, Simon throws a party and sends guests home with the extraneous belongings. A good read to temper a case of the "Gimmees." Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
(November 1, 2003; 0-439-37724-2)
PreS-Gr. 2. Here's a wonderful message wrapped in a honey of a tale. Simon the fiddler lives in a cozy house with everything he needs: a chair, a bed, clothes, a soft hat, a stuffed animal, good friends, and a fiddle. He's happy until the day he thinks, I want more! Uh-oh. Soon there are chairs and hats and animals everywhere he looks. The house is no longer comfortable; it's crowded. And taking care of his stuff takes Simon away from his fiddle and his pals. Then he has an idea: a party where everyone comes and sits on his chairs and, afterward, takes one home, along with a hat and a toy animal. Zemach, daughter of Margot and Herve, provides a straightforward and effective telling illustrated by watercolor-and-gouache artwork that moves from simple to swarming to simple once more as Simon learns that having everything is worth nothing when it keeps you from the things and people you love. Parents and teachers will find plenty here to start a discussion. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist
School Library Journal
(October 1, 2003; 0-439-37724-2)
PreS-Gr 3-Simon the Fiddler has a very good life. He lives in a cozy little house; sleeps in a comfy bed; and has plenty to eat, a soft hat to wear, good friends, and a beautiful fiddle. One day, he decides, "I want more!" So Simon buys a new chair, and then another, and another. But filling his home with furniture doesn't seem to satisfy his urge, so the fellow acquires an array of hats, and then, a menagerie of toy animals. For awhile, he enjoys his crowded little house, but when he can no longer move around comfortably, he discovers that he misses his simple life. So he bakes a cake, sets his new chairs around a long table, adds hats and toy animals, and invites his friends over for a party. Afterward, he asks everyone to take a chair, hat, and toy home. Finally, Simon is able to relax and enjoy his simple life once more. Zemach's keen sense of color and shape and use of white space adds to the homey feel of this book. The rich watercolor-and-gouache illustrations, many emphasizing rounded forms, are full of movement and joy. Readers will breathe a sigh of relief with Simon at the story's end. Perfect for storyhours or individual readings.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.