The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip - George Saunders, illus. Lane Smith
(bought at Carroll's going-out-of-business sale; read out loud to Robyn)
I hadn't read anything by George Saunders prior to this one, but now I'd like to find some of his other short stories to see if they're just as wonderful. I have been a fan of Lane Smith for some time (often teamed up with writer Jon Scieszka on books such as The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales), who has a wonderful style that's perfect for quirky stories and modern-day fables. This is a story of the gappers, strange orange prickly burrs with lots of eyes, who have a fondness for the goats in the small town of Frip. The townspeople spend all their time trying to get rid of the gappers, but it's a task cut out for Sisyphus: the gappers always return, and the cycle repeats.
It's also a story about human nature, the way that we treat those who are worse off than ourselves, how we respond to difficult circumstances. And it's a story about gapper nature as well, about their cares and concerns and how they think with their 3.7 IQs. There's no moral at the end of the story (I was half expecting a very bad pun), but there are certainly lessons to be learned.
Go find this book and read it to somebody you love. (Or, barring that, somebody silly.)