Review: Give and Take by Chris Raschka

give and take

Give and Take by Chris Raschka

A farmer who grows apples discovers a strange little man out in his orchard just as his apples are ready to pick.  The little man is named Take and he encourages the farmer to listen to him so that he can have a fine life.  Though the farmer already has a fine life, Take promises to make it better.  So the farmer goes through his day taking everything.  He takes all of his neighbors pumpkins when she offers him some.  He takes her advice to make pumpkin soup, and he takes a long hike.  Left wishing he had some apples to eat, he kicks out Take the next morning.  Then when he visits his orchard that morning, he meets another little man named Give.  Give promises to make his life sweeter, so once again the farmer tries.  He gives everything away, including his apples and all of his opinions.  He is left hungry another night and kicks Give out.  But in the morning, he discovers the two little men fighting with one another.  Can a farmer outwit these two battling forces?

Raschka has written this picture book with the tone of a fable.  Readers will immediately see Take as a selfish force and then think that Give is the angelic voice.  But Raschka’s take is more nuanced than that, showing the harm in being too giving with everything in your life and how it can turn toxic and harmful too.  He then goes about having his farmer propose a balance of giving and taking in life.  The result is a book that has balance, a folkloric rhythm and tone, and is a great read aloud and opportunity for discussion.

Raschka’s illustrations are his trademark flowing and free style.  He uses watercolors contained with thick black lines.  The bright red of the farmer’s nose and the apples pop on the page along with the pink pig and the orange pumpkins.  As always, his book is art, changing with each turn of the page as the story is told.

Perfect for discussions about balance, generosity and greed, this picture book is a great balance of art and folklore itself.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.