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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Five Little Fiends
Five Little Fiends
by Sarah Dyer
On a far away plain stood five lonely statues.
Inside each statue lived a little fiend.
Every day they would come outside to marvel at their surroundings.
One day they each decided to take the one thing they liked best.
--Five Little Fiends, by Sarah Dyer, p. 1-5.
In this entertaining tale of sharing, co-operation, and friendship, five little fiends live, lonely and isolated, inside their own statues, coming out only to look at their surroundings. They each decide to take what they love the best—the moon, the sky, the sea, the land, and the sun—and holed them away in their statues. But then they discover that those things can't exist without each other—the sun couldn't stay up without the sky, the sky couldn't be found without the land. . . . So in the end, they decide to put everything back and admire it together.
The text is simple, well written, and profound. It flows easily, with just enough writing paired with each image to be satisfying and to tell the story well. No words feel out of place. The pairing of text to images works beautifully, and feels thoughtfully and creatively done.
The messages in this book can be taken directly—that it's important to share, and to respect the earth—but they can also be taken more metaphorically—that through working with others, and sharing what's important to us, we can find what we want and need.
The bright red fiends stand out most in these gouache and ink paintings, along with their pieces of land and sky. The uncluttered paintings focus on the fiends and their immediate interest (their statue, catching or putting back the sun, moon, water, etc), with large spaces of white background emphasizing them. This makes the action more important and easy to follow.
The art builds on the text, adding important details such as how close but very separate the fiends are in the beginning, in their respective statues, and later how the fiends work together, co-operating, to put things back, and hold hands in the end as they gaze out at the world. It also shows the fiends creatively removing the sky and land (rolling them up like paper or grass), catching the sea in a cup, catching the moon in a net Nice movement and growth of character, giving the message of hope, of working together and caring about each other and the world, or whatever the world symbolizes for the reader.
This is a delightful, enchanting book—creative, whimsical, and magical, with a good heart. Highly recommended.
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