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Stretch, Swallow and Stare
Written & Illustrated by Veronika Martenova Charles

Stretch was not like other people. She could stretch her body taller than the tallest tree. People didn't trust her because she was different. That's why she lived in the forest. Swallow could eat more food than anyone. The villagers made fun of her because she was short and fat. That's why she left town. Stare's eyes were so strong they could burn through anything she looked at. Everyone was afraid of her. That's why she stayed alone. And then there was Ira - small, skinny, and short-sighted - with nobody in the world to help him search for his missing sister. Somehow these four unlikely characters come together and overcome all obstacles - even the most evil magic in the land.

Veronika Martenova Charles has drawn upon an old Czech fairy tale to create her own contemporary story about the strength of friendship and the value of being different.

• Best Picture Books, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1999

Canadian Children's Book News
".. . compelling contemporary story rooted in the folk and fairy tale tradition but with a wonderful new perspective. .. .about the need to accept being different..."

Village Post
"...a modern allegory about not judging our worth by external appearances. ...an exciting adventure story sure to capture the imagination."

School Library Journal
"...a contemporary story about a young boys quest... the themes stand out boldly..."

City Parent
"...a landscape of hoodoo-like hills and spiked towers... create a sense of danger and dread as the three set out on their compassionate quest."

The Bloor West Villager
"This story is a refection of our reality set in a make-believe world."

"My four year old daughter loves this book. It's a fairy tale like the ones written one or two centuries ago, but the pictures are modern. ...the moral is having not just tolerance, but love and appreciation for people who are different from you. I have no idea if my preschooler "gets" this, but regardless it's one she's had me read to her countless times."

"...gifted storytelling and darkly vivid illustrations..."

click to enlarge

Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Cover artwork used with permission.
All rights reserved.

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© copyright Veronika Martenova Charles. Artwork used by permission. Website by Hoffworks