Clay Boyby Mirra Ginsburg; illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
One day, as the story goes, Grandpa finds a piece of clay and fashions it into a little clay boy. As he puts it by the fire to dry, Grandpa says to Grandma 'We won't be alone anymore.'
Be careful what you wish for, Grandpa! As the Clay Boy dries by the fire, he begins to come to life. His hands move, then his feet, then he jumps up and announces: 'I am here!' and 'I am hungry!' Grandpa and Grandma feed him bread. They feed him milk. The Clay Boy grows, and so does his appetite. With shouts of:'More! More!' he eats all the food in the house, and when Grandpa and Grandma have no more food to offer, Clay Boy devours the farm animals. He gets bigger and bigger, and before long (gulp!) Grandpa and Grandma become one more course in Clay Boy's fearsome feast. Then -- 'thump, thump, thump' Clay Boy sets off down the street on his big clay feet, more enormous than ever, and with plenty of room left in his big clay tummy. 'More!' Clay Boy's greedy refrain continues; who, or what, can stop him?
Based on a Russian tale, the familiar theme in Clay Boy can be found in the folklore of many cultures. This picture book version is simply told, but delivers a big dramatic punch, and would make a wonderful read aloud one-on-one, or in a group setting. On a cautionary note: it might best be shared with children ages 5 and older. Clay Boy's barely formed features render him rather deliciously creepy, and his over-the-top antics (along with the book's wonderful, realistic illustrations), could be frightening to some preschoolers. I think school-age children would, however - forgive the pun! - eat it up and want 'more!'