Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Gobble You Up!

wolf_gobble you upstar2 Gobble You Up!
by Gita Wolf; illus. by Sunita
Preschool, Primary    Tara    40 pp.
10/13    978-81-923171-4-4    $34.95

The outline is familiar: after gulping down animal after animal, a greedy creature bursts. Here it’s a jackal who devours the dozen fish his best friend the crane has caught for him, then the crane herself, and so on, all neatly cumulated in Wolf’s exuberant adaptation of a Hindi tale from Rajasthan: “Proud peacock / Lost her poise / Quiet cat / Just annoys — / Gobbled you up, / Elephant! / Did you really / Think I couldn’t?” Unlike the old lady who swallowed a fly, the jackal survives his bursting, as do his victims. (The fate of a tailor bird who may stitch the jackal back up is more uncertain.) It’s a surefire tale made splendid by gorgeous illustrations and bookmaking. According to a note, Sunita uses a traditional art form passed from mothers to daughters, squeezing chalk and lime paste through her fingers to paint ritual motifs, especially animals. Some of these originally white images (particularly the jackal) are rendered here in black, in elegant counterpoint to the remaining white. As creatures accumulate in the jackal’s belly, the stylized forms are cleverly, and beautifully, re-formed and rearranged, to excellent effect. Meticulously, the art is silkscreened onto sturdy kraft paper by a dozen printers (credited by name), and hand bound (the binders are also named). The tactile effect of the flat silkscreen on the faintly mottled paper is a treat — a true work of art. Yes, this is pricey, but it’s worth every penny.

From the January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Joanna Rudge Long About Joanna Rudge Long

Joanna Rudge Long is former editor of Kirkus Reviews and a frequent lecturer on children’s books.



  1. Yes it most certainly IS worth every penny Joanna, and I purchased it for my collection weeks ago. Without question this is one of the best picture books of 2013, and should land on everyone’s list. Wonderful review on the craftsmanship of the book and the appeal of the story. It does recall THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY but in another sense it is it’s own animal.

    Sad to say, my copy is falling apart at the center seam, with two pages separating from the string. I know the book is hand-made, so I am perplexed. In any case I may be an isolated case.

    Again, lovely work here.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind