That's Good, That's Bad by Joan M. Lexau, illustrated by Aliki
That's Good, That's Bad
by Joan M. Lexau, illustrated by Aliki
Review Copy from Presetel Publishing
Back in 2012, I reviewed four "reversal of fortune" picture books that spanned almost five decades. I never get tired of reading this kind of picture book, and in my experience, kids never get tired of having them read out loud. I think one of the most fun (and teachable) things about a book like this is the way the story prompts readers/listeners to make predictions, even though making an accurate one is almost impossible because of the nature of the story itself. That's Good, That's Bad was originally published in 1962, two years before Remy Charlip's superlative Fortunately. If you can't tell by the title, the main character of That's Good, That's Bad experiences a series of positive and negative events. Lexau begins her story with a boy, sitting on a rock, who is approached by a tiger licking its lips. Tiger tells Boy to run so that he can chase him and eat him, but Boy refuses. Intrigued, Tiger asks Boy to tell his story, assuring him that he will be eaten when he is done. Boy tells a story of bumping into Rhino and being chased by the angry creature, using a variety of means to escape. Boy climbs a low hanging tree and Rhino runs past him, which is good. But Rhino comes back and is even angrier, which is bad. Boy's profile and Tiger's face bookend each two page spread in That's Good, That's Bad, and it is a delight to watch their expressions change with each page turn - something readers might miss on a first reader, being anxious to see how the story ends. Aliki's illustrations, especially the design device of showing the story, which happened in the past, in between the faces of Boy and Tiger, in the present, is brilliant. Boy throws stones, swings on vines over crocodiles and even ends up on Rhino's back at one point. As his story (and his life?) comes to a close, Boy reveals that he threw one last stone to trick Rhino. "'That's good,' said Tiger," except, it isn't good for Tiger because clever Boy has been resting on the rock, waiting for Rhino to come rumbling past. When that happens, Boy, newly energized, tricks Rhino into chasing Tiger while he runs home in the opposite direction, as fast as he can!
Don't miss these other "good/bad" picture books. Read my reviews here.