The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders, illustrated by Lane Smith

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Read December 2015
Recommended for fans of Stinky Cheese
 ★    ★    1/2

Poor GapTVPGoF Goat Gapper 1pers! They just want to climb on the goats and shriek with happiness.

Poor goats! If they can’t sleep from the shrieking, then they can’t make milk!

A girl named Capable and her father have been trying to survive since Capable’s mother died earlier this year. Dad really would like things to stay exactly as they were that day, including the sun staying up and all his meals made of white food. Poor Capable has her hands full carrying the gappers back to the sea and preparing a chalk mixture to make Dad’s meals look white. One day, the smartest gapper realizes that Capable’s goats are fifteen feet closer than the goats of the other two families of Frip, so they descend en mass to happily visit Capable’s goats. What will she do? Will her neighbors help?

A clever enough tale, TVPGoF feels a little arch, a little self-congratulatory, a little too hip. There’s something about it that screams for attention despite lacking the charm of other children’s books (Fly by Night, The Girl Who Circumnavigated…). I guess I tentatively like the moral, although the narrative feels surprisingly condemning in the process of getting there. There is a surprising obstacle or two before it resolves as expected.

TVPGoF Boys fighting

But what’s a children’s book without illustrations? And like The Stinky Cheese book, I’m not sure these pictures are designed to appeal to younger eyes. People resemble the distorted figures of A Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s a muted, fall palette and with detail more appropriate to a demographic that can appreciate the weathered patina on a house, or the jail-like costuming of the movers. A far cry, to be sure, from the books where a picture brings something about the story to be discovered. Still, the gappers manage to be almost cute, facilitating the idea that they are just animals doing their thing, and the goats are very goat-like. Artistically, it is well done, just not the kind of style that appeals to me personally.


TVPGoF moving house

I can see where some adults would love this, but for me personally–as well as for any child gift recipients–it’s a ‘pass,’ despite starring a girl named Capable.



About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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3 Responses to The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders, illustrated by Lane Smith

  1. Mimi says:

    The illustrations lol. They didn’t show up in your GR review, so I didn’t get the full “impact” of the book.

    • thebookgator says:

      Interesting–mobile version? I took the time to link them, surprisingly. I think the best part of most childrens books is the art! The gappers look suspiciously like starfruit… 😉

      • Mimi says:

        Yup, mobile. I prefer the desktop version, but when the feed is especially glitchy like this morning, I turn to mobile.

        The artwork is my main reason for browsing through the children’s shelves. If grown-up fantasies feature that much art, I’m sure hardcovers would sell better.

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