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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Vortex is an anteater; Scoop is a lioness. What’s unusual about the two is not that Vortex likes to count how many ants he eats each day, or that Scoop likes to measure how fast she runs because she’s the fastest runner in the jungle. What’s unusual is that Vortex the anteater and Scoop the lioness were born together, attached at the shoulder and torso. Vortex and Scoop are one, even though they’re also two different animals. And this has become a problem. While Vortex wants to eat all the ants he can, Scoop wants to run as fast as she can, so neither one is happy with how the other goes about their business. So, what do they do? Do they seek surgical separation? Or do they learn to accommodate each other and live together in harmony?
Author and artist Janis Adrian Kirstein has written a charming, fantastical story in Fantasy Animals (Volume 1), complete with her own illustrations. The story reads like a treasured parable, a storyteller’s treat that also teaches valuable lessons. In this case, the lessons to be learned are about understanding, cooperating, resolving differences, and learning to live together without conflict in spite of differences. Everyone is born different, unique, and we all must learn to respect these differences, not criticize them. Vortex and Scoop had to learn how to negotiate, how to find something good in each other, and how to make allowances for the other’s differences. These are important lessons for all of us, young and old, to learn over and over again. A great story to share many times.