Cover image for Ackamarackus : Julius Lester's sumptuously silly fantastically funny fables
Ackamarackus : Julius Lester's sumptuously silly fantastically funny fables
Lester, Julius.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
40 pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm
A collection of six original fables with morals both silly and serious.
Reading Level:
AD 570 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.1 1.0 72195.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 3 Quiz: 23918 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.2.L45 AC 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.2.L45 AC 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.2.L45 AC 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This whimsical collection of six original fables with morals both serious and sly can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Lester's read-aloud text with alliteration and clever wordplay is coupled with Chollat's quirky illustrations of irresistable creatures in absurd predicaments, who as a result gather wisdom about acceptance, ingenuity, and individuality. Full-color illustrations.

Author Notes

Julius Bernard Lester was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 27, 1939. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Fisk University in 1960. He moved to New York to become a folk singer. He performed on the coffeehouse circuit as a singer and guitarist. He released two albums entitled Julius Lester in 1965 and Departures in 1967. His first published book, The Folksinger's Guide to the 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly written with Pete Seeger, was published in 1965.

In the 1960s, Lester was closely involved as a writer and photographer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He traveled to the South to document the civil rights movement and to North Vietnam to photograph the effects of American bombardment. He also hosted radio and television talk shows in New York City.

He wrote more than four dozen nonfiction and fiction books for adults and children. His books for adults included Look Out, Whitey!: Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama, Revolutionary Notes, All Is Well, Lovesong: Becoming a Jew, and The Autobiography of God. His children's books included To Be a Slave, Sam and the Tigers, and Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, which won the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Award in 2006. He also wrote reviews and essays for numerous publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Dissent, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

After teaching for two years at the New School for Social Research in New York, Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1971. He originally taught in the Afro-American studies department, but transferred to the Judaic and Near Eastern studies department when Lester criticized the novelist James Baldwin for what he felt were anti-Semitic remarks. He died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on January 18, 2018 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. Lester lets his funny side out in six inventive, original fables featuring animals we'd like to meet. Bernard the Bee loses his buzz after a lovelorn, watery encounter with a bluebird but teams up with a balalaika-playing honey to be all that he can "bee." Female lions Liora, Loretta, and Letty are exasperated with the always sleeping Lionel but find a way to turn his snoozing to their advantage, proving "you can be a genius at anything," even sleeping. Ellen the eagle wonders about the air holding her up, and Adalbert the Alligator finds Vermont, rather than Florida, to his liking. Lester's delicious wordplay is infectious and reflected in the use of display type in various sizes and colors. The acrylic-and-collage images make use of flat geometric shapes, matte colors, and googly expressions to reflect the silliness rampant in the text. The fabulous world of the title, Ackamarackus, is defined on the back jacket as, among other things, "nonsense, malarkey." --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Puns and alliteration abound in Lester's (To Be a Slave; Sam and the Tigers) roundup of six zany, zippy tales. The author introduces some cockeyed characters, among them a bee who falls in love with a balalaika-playing girl bee and learns to play the bongos after he loses his buzz ("A bee without a buzz would be a used-to-be bee who was now a been"), a lion whose wives find a way to cash in on his laziness and an alligator who beats the Florida heat by moving to Vermont. An inventive counterpoint to Aesop's approach, Lester's fables conclude with a pair of morals some entirely absurd, some with a tinge of truth listed under the heading, "Which proves two things" (the bee tale, for instance, concludes with: "1. Always be all that you can bee./ 2. Why buzz when you can balalaika?"). French artist Chollat reinforces the farce and folly of the narrative in her boldly hued acrylics and collage illustrations. For "The Flies Learn to Fly," she pictures the students at fly school dressed in gingham, polka-dot and plaid fabric swatches; cutout letters function as the equivalent of thought balloons. The Oxford English Dictionary's definition of "ackamarackus" appears on the back cover, which reads in part, "A `tall' story, a hackneyed tale, nonsense, malarkey." Which proves two things: 1. This book is most appropriately titled; and 2. This is Lester at his most preposterous and playful. Ages 4-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Each of the six tales in this riotous collection features irrepressible animals, laugh-out-loud descriptions, alliterative language, turns of phrase that dance off the tongue, and two pithy morals brimming with wisdom and wit. There's Ellen the Eagle, afraid of heights, including her native mountaintop. She finds her niche posing for federal posters and stamps and ultimately makes her home in a D.C. penthouse. In this and other stories, listeners will read about creatures learning to be true to themselves, to value their own and other's uniqueness, and to be careful about negative feelings like anger and judgment. Chollat's expressive acrylic-and-collage, single-page scenes and isolated images add to the fun. The flat, highly saturated illustrations combine a retro flavor, askewed horizons, and a colorful mixture of fonts. The playful lettering is incorporated into portions of the text as well. With asides to the audience, a distinctive voice, and tidbits aimed at a wide range of ages, it's as if Lester were right in the room spinning his stories.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.