Since I've been on a Chris Van Allsburg kick lately, I thought I might as well feature my very favorite Chris Van Allsburg book.
Of course I love The Polar Express and Jumanji and all the other stunning, breathtaking books that Mr. Van Allsburg has created. And people may think I'm crazy to even name a favorite (and especially a favorite that is not The Polar Express). But The Sweetest Fig is so charming and funny and surprising, I just can't help it.
The story takes place in Paris and begins in the office of Monsieur Bibot, a very unsympathetic, unkind dentist. An old woman comes in with a toothache, and after Bibot extracts the offending tooth, she explains that she does not have any money. All she can offer are 3 magic figs that will make his dreams come true. Angrily, Monsieur Bibot sends her out of the office, refusing to give her any medication for the pain.
I won't spoil the charm of the story, but, as you can imagine, the figs really *do* make his dreams come true, and the ending is a real zinger! Almost every child I've read this book to has asked to read it again immediately after the book has been closed.
Definitely grab this one from the library or your local bookstore. You can find used copies on Amazon for about 3-5 dollars. (And of course, if you have budding young writers in your midst, you should encourage them to try their hand at Chris Van Allsburg's Mysteries of Harris Burdick Story Writing Contest.)