A Basket Full of Figs

Green Bean. Apr. 2020. 32p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781784384722.
PreS-Gr 3–This retelling of an ancient Hebrew text celebrates the concept of providing for future generations. The entire town hides as Emperor Hadrian rides by, except for one elderly man carrying a sapling. Hadrian asks what he is doing, and the man explains that he is planting a fig tree. Hadrian is confused since the man will be unlikely to live to see its fruit. But the man says the fruit is for future generations, and he is doing what previous generations did for him. Three years later, Hadrian returns to find the man carrying a basketful of the tree’s figs. He offers them to the emperor, who enjoys them so much that he gives the man gold. The narration gives an engaging and timeless feel. It flows smoothly, with the perfect amount of detail. The sketchy illustrations are filled in with tiny lines, giving them a scratchboard or unfinished feel. Stylized, broad-chested Hadrian and his huge horse look copied from a piece of historical artwork. The diminutive old man has a mischievous face and long beard. The final spread depicts the fruit trees from the point of view of the man lying on the ground.
VERDICT The story speaks to today’s environmental concerns, with text that is accessible and entertaining regardless of one’s knowledge of Judaism. Libraries in search of timely fables will find this a pleasant additional purchase for read-alouds.

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