The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

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by George Saunders, Lane Smith, Lane Smith

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Gappers will get your goat. Literally. If you don't brush them off and return them to the ocean, whence they arrive every day, these bright orange, many-eyed creatures will cover your goats, and the goats will stop giving milk.

In a village called Frip, goat's milk was the entire economy. Three families lived there—the Romos, the Ronsens, and a little…  See more details below


Gappers will get your goat. Literally. If you don't brush them off and return them to the ocean, whence they arrive every day, these bright orange, many-eyed creatures will cover your goats, and the goats will stop giving milk.

In a village called Frip, goat's milk was the entire economy. Three families lived there—the Romos, the Ronsens, and a little girl named Capable and her widowed father, who wanted everything to remain the same. It didn't. One day, the Gappers, despite an average IQ of 3.7 (±.02), decided for a good reason to concentrate on Capable's goats. Oh, how the Romos and Ronsens turned their backs on the gapper-ridden Capable! Oh, how they indeed lorded it over her! What kinds of creatures are we, one wonders, when such selfishness so often springs up so spontaneously among us?

And, given the coldness of her neighbors' shoulders, what will Capable do about her Gapper plague, as her share of the economy dries up? Literally. The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, with a brilliant story by award-ridden short-story master George Saunders and fifty-two haunting and hilarious illustrations by bestseller-plagued artist/author Lane Smith, answers that question. In doing so it tells a tale as ancient as the Bible and as modern as a memo from the Federal Reserve Board. And funnier than both—which isn't saying all that much, admittedly. You don't get to laugh and gaze in visual awe and pleasure all that often when the Golden Rule comes under such serious attack and such staunch defense as it did in Frip.

An adult story for children, a children's story for adults, an earthlings' story for aliens, an oceanside fable for the landlocked, acapitalist tool for anarchists, a fish story for loaves, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip represents the classic instant of two young geniuses colliding and colluding. The result is—what else?—an instant classic!

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Editorial Reviews
A Review of The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Move over, Bill Bennett—the inimitable short story master George Saunders (Pastoralia) and acclaimed illustrator Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales) have created an astonishing new book of virtues for the child in all of us. Alternately haunting and hilarious, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip reaffirms the age-old message of the Golden Rule while simultaneously lampooning the great American institutions of social conservatism and religious chauvinism, along with its inbred kissing cousin, evangelical consumerism.

For as long as anyone can remember, the inhabitants of the tiny seaside village of Frip have raised goats, eking out a living by supplying the neighboring villages with goat milk. For just as long, Frip has been plagued by a colony of dim-witted, multi-eyed, goat-loving aquatic cockleburs known as gappers. Each morning the gappers wriggle from the waves to serenade the smelly objects of their affection and, each day, the weary children of Frip dutifully remove the pests with gapper-brushes, collect them in gapper-sacks, and toss them back into the sea.

As all good things must come to an end—in parables, allegories, and illustrated fables, anyway—the day soon comes when the staid Frippian monoculture must confront a radically new paradigm. More specifically, one morning, a moderately less-stupid gapper realizes that one of the village's three houses is considerably closer to the water's edge than the other two and, for efficiency's sake, he urges his fellow gappers to concentrate their goat-addled adorations on this single location. For the neighboring Romo and Ronson families, this newly gapperless situation is the occasion for considerable self-congratulatory enthusiasm. However, for young Capable and her recently widowed father, who now must treble their gapper-brushing, sacking, and tossing efforts, this turn of events is overwhelming.

Capable's appeals for neighborly assistance are greeted with pompous disbelief ("Are those gappers our gappers? Are those goats our goats?), and her attempts to get rid of the gappers, while ingenious, end in failure...until she decides upon a course of action so simple—and yet so radical—that nothing and no one in the village of Frip will ever be the same.

Greg Marrs

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.89(w) x 9.58(h) x 0.48(d)
1010L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Ever Had a Burr in Your Sock?

A gapper's like that, only bigger, about the size of a baseball, bright orange, with multiple eyes like a potato. And gappers love goats. When a gapper gets near a goat it gives off a continual high-pitched happy shriek of pleasure that makes it impossible for the goat to sleep, and the goats gets skinny and stop giving milk. And in towns that survive by selling goat-milk, if there's no goat-milk, there's no money, and if there's no money, there's no food or housing or clothing, and so on, in gapper-infested towns. since nobody likes the idea of starving naked outdoors, it is necessary at all costs to keep the gappers off the goats.

Such a town was Frip.

Frip was three leaning shacks by the sea. Frip was three tiny goats-yards into which eight times a day the children of the shacks would trudge with gapper brushes and cloth gapper-sacks that tied at the top. After brushing the gappers off the goats, the children would walk to a cliff at the edge of town and empty their gapper-sacks into the sea.

The gappers would sink to the bottom and immediately begin inching their way across the ocean floor, and three hours later would arrive again at Frip and split into three groups, one per house, only to be brushed off again by the same weary and discouraged children, who would stumble home and fall into their little beds for a few hours of sleep, dreaming, if they dreamed at all, of gappers putting them into sacks and dropping them into the sea.

In the shack closest to the sea lived a girl named Capable.

What People are saying about this

Robert Coles
A wonderfully engaging story told with wry humor and with moral energy, and illustrated beautifully. We all live in this book's world of Frip, and are connected to others in that world , no matter their nature–that's what we're prompted to remember by this marvelous tale.

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The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my 7-year-old daughter so I could share my love of George Saunders' writing with her. She is an exceptional reader and therefore the prose is a bit simple for her. However she was really tickled that I bought her a book with pictures in it. She thought I had decided she was too old for pictures. The artwork and the story are both unusual and excellent. The book also delivers a nice message. Fun read, cool artwork, good message. 5 stars across the board.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my very favorite book to read to my grandchildren. It's unique, funny and exciting. My grandchildren love me extra after reading this book to them and I get a chance to show off my dramatic side.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! It had a very interesting plot. READ IT! Like I said, it's awesome. It's so good... I'm 'speechless'.