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The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,023 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
A Review of The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Move over, Bill Bennettthe inimitable short story master George Saunders (Pastoralia) and acclaimed illustrator Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales) have created an astonishing new book of virtues for the child in all of us. Alternately haunting and hilarious, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip rea

Hardcover, 84 pages
Published March 29th 2006 by McSweeney's (first published 2000)
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Jan 03, 2016 Carol. rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of The Stinky Cheese Man
Poor Gappers! They just want to climb on the goats and shriek with happiness.

Poor goats! If they can’t sleep from the shrieking, then they can’t make milk!


A girl named Capable and her father have been trying to survive since Capable’s mother died earlier this year. Dad really would like things to stay exactly as they were that day, including the sun staying up and all his meals made of white food. Poor Capable has her hands full carrying the gappers back to the sea and preparing a chalk mixture
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Saunders, you pinko! You make me want to get knocked up just so I can have a small, impressionable mind to mold with your morals. Pick this up if you want your child to learn how wrong it is for a few to benefit from the misfortunes of many, that sustainability should be sought in place of convenience, that if you're only out for yourself you are bound to lose because we're all in this together and all that blardy blardy, that a friend in need is a friend indeed, that boys who like girls should ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to Frip, population 4 adults, 5 children, 30 goats and approximately fifteen hundred gappers.

Gappers are bright orange baseball-sized critters who look something like a cross between a blowfish and a many-eyed Pac-Man. They exist seemingly only to perch on goats and shriek, causing said goats to stop giving milk and collapse from nervous exhaustion.

You can probably see that this could be a problem for the good citizens of Frip.

And thereby hangs a tale with all the makings of a classic. T
Jul 31, 2016 Danger rated it really liked it
This was a fun little book that I'd say anyone of any age could enjoy. There’s a moral to the story, lain on pretty thick, as one would expect from a children’s book, but it’s a good moral nonetheless so I had no problems with that. Saunders is one of those writers who seem to never miss the mark. Plus I LOVE the illustrations in here. They’re somehow whimsical and muted at the same time, and if I was a kid, I’d be enraptured by how weird they are. Why don’t more adult books have illustrations? ...more
Adam Floridia
A strong 4.5 that I can't wait to read to this guy:


Looks like he's excited, too!

It's a cute and entertaining story with many valuable lessons. For example

1) A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--or, in non-Emersonian terms, Learn to think outside the box:


2) Overcome life's hurdles


3) Be friendly to everyone


4) Care for animals


5) With help from others, the sky is the limit


6) Prance around with no pants


Well, maybe those weren't all the primary messages, but hey, I'm on an insert pi
Jason Pettus
Jan 16, 2013 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I had the pleasure of getting to talk with legendary author George Saunders for CCLaP's podcast last week, a rare treat given how in demand he is on this latest tour even among the major media; but that meant I had to do some serious cramming in the few weeks leading up to our talk, in that (I guiltily con
Dec 04, 2012 Woodge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this for the third time (it’s 84 pages, illustrated) and this time I did it aloud to Luke. It’s the story of a girl named Capable living in the town of Frip who’s exhausted from her job of brushing off gappers from her goats on a daily basis. Gappers are baseball-sized, multi-eyed creatures that adhere themselves to goats and then shriek joyfully. The goats get put out. Capable’s neighbors are buffoons and she comes up with a plan. It’s a bizarre and occasionally funny tale which has the im ...more
I cataloged this when it came out. The record we imported had very little information so I was forced to read the book to find out what it was about.
I bought a copy that very same day.
This is my go-to "I need some giggles" book.
I love the mortified goats.
I love the horrid neighbors.
I love the persistent gappers.

Pretty much, I love this book. I would marry it if I were not already married.
Feb 15, 2014 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
I had a hard time finding this book at the Washington, D.C., public library because, although it is about a resourceful little girl and has whimsical illustrations, it is shelved with the novels for grown-ups.

Has anyone out there every actually read this to or with an actual child? What was the child's reaction?

Saunders is sort of literary flavor-of-the-month now. I see serious people with goatees and/or tattoos reading his latest, Tenth of December , in coffee houses. It's encouraging in thes
Mar 04, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: lulz
While the underlying message behind this allegory is not the most original, the premise, and relationship between the goats/gappers/3 families in the town of Frip, is. Plus the gapeprs in general are rather hilarious, though I felt bad for the goats (The gappers, little tennis-ball-like eye-covered beasts love the goats and shriek with joy when upon them, but it makes the goats lie down, sad). Anyway.. the illustrations are AWESOME and elevate the book to a whole new level of enjoyable-ness. Als ...more
Apr 19, 2013 Jana rated it it was amazing
I would like to sit the world down and tell them a story. This story. I'll hold the book like my teacher did in 1st grade and show all the fabulous pictures. I borrowed this from the library, but will soon have a copy on my shelf. Come on over, I'll read you a story!

If you're not in my neighborhood, I urge you to go find a copy.

In a way, this reminded me of a more grown up version of The Sneetches. Wouldn't the world would be a much better place if both of these books were ingrained in our psych
Dec 27, 2007 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-reading
Is this a kid's book? Maybe, but I wouldn't recommend that a very young child read it, or even look at the pictures - it could be scary. Adults will find it thought provoking.

In Frip, people act with blissful ignorance, accepting the world as it is as though they understand it, but they don't. Their ignorance leads to catastrophe for a few of them, and the thoughtful determination of one character leads her to success, all through trial and error.

In today's modern world, science tries to answe
Nov 19, 2008 Adam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evil-kids-books
This is, in a way, a variation on the classic children’s story The Little Red Hen. Unfortunately, it is also heavy-handed, deeply cynical, and mean-spirited. The author has a very low view of ordinary people and obviously takes great delight in depicting most of the characters here as despicable, narrow-minded fools. Only one small put-upon girl, Capable, and her late, sainted mother are shown to be decent folk--and they come off as near-perfect. So, yes, it’s a story of extremes, and simplistic ...more
Oct 29, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-to-the-kids
I already read this book to my son earlier this year, and I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me to read it again. He almost never asks me to read chapter books to him again, and the fact that he chose this bizarre modern folk tale leads me to believe he may be a chip off the old block.

Gappers are little spiky orange creatures that crawl out of the sea and attach themselves to goats. They love goats very much and scream in ecstasy when they are attached to one. Neither the goats nor their o
Sep 15, 2015 Dwight rated it it was amazing
I have read this book 50 times or so to each of three children while in the 5 to 8 range, and as they grew older the conversations it spawned around community, fate, the common good, sharing, love, piety, class, and religion are almost shocking. It brings to mind just how silly our society is in attempting to shelter children from the realities of the political and social environment they live in. They can handle it - when presented properly. "The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip", provides one f ...more
Lady Daisy Barksby- Pryce
Jun 17, 2016 Lady Daisy Barksby- Pryce rated it it was amazing
The story of Capable, a girl who lives with her father and their goats by the sea near the village of Frip. She spends her days brushing the gappers - about the size of a baseball, bright orange, with multiple eyes like the eyes on a potato- off of the goats. Gappers *adore* goats and cling to them, and shriek in happiness. This does not make the goats happy. In fact, it keeps them from sleeping, and from giving milk, which is a problem if you sell goat milk. The children brush the gappers off, ...more
Francesca Brunner
Dec 09, 2015 Francesca Brunner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
One of my absolute favourite children's books, a definite gem. From the cover design to the format, with amazing illustrations by Lane Smith (James & the Giant Peach and Where is Art?), this is very compelling visually. The title of this book is a little different, mysterious even, but like a great indie movie, it pulls you in. The story centers around Capable, a quiet, self-contained heroine, who lives with her widowed father in Frip. The 'gappers' of the title are Capable's nemeses, and ma ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
This is a masterwork of children's literature.
Gappers, goats, angry operatic singers, self-centered neighbors, and one Father stuck in the past are a stark contrast to the determination and creativity of one small girl named Capable. There are a multitude of rich learning opportunities, each a blend of some part extreme hilarity and another deep profundity.
The Gappers are critters that LOVE goats, love them to the point of overwhelming them to death. Because of this the children of Frip must b
Jan 02, 2016 Lilly rated it really liked it
I had no expectations heading into this book. It was a Christmas gift and I just decided to not read the back or anything about it. This book is very well illustrated with pictures on almost every page! The story may come across as silly, immature, and childish. You have to dig a little bit to find the deeper meaning. Some books and movies can be enjoyed by people of any age and children can get something totally different from it than adults; this is one of those books. The main theme of the st ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Audrey rated it it was amazing
The world needs more children's books for adults. This is crazy good fun.
Jennifer Lavonier
Sep 25, 2012 Jennifer Lavonier rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 25, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. It's all in the title, isn't it? This little book is a snappy satire masquerading as a children's book. A cast of twisted characters and strange (or mortified) creatures challenge our heroine Capable, who has to make sense out of a way of life that has gone utterly (udderly?) topsy-turvy.

Children will find the text delightfully weird and will enjoy the beautifully colored and textured illustrations. So will adults, for that matter. In fact, adults may be sur
Russ Anderson
Mar 20, 2016 Russ Anderson rated it really liked it
This was a neat little fable with great illustrations by Lane Smith. This story could be subtitled, "A Tale for Children" the same way Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is. Lots for adults to remind themselves of here, especially in today's current political climate.
Dec 02, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
A delightful, if not a slightly creepy, allegory mostly aimed at children, of selfishness, narrow mindedness, and uncooperative behavior being broken down by kindness. Illustrated by Lane Smith with sometimes disturbing graphical images, though well done and occasionally humorous. I'm not sure how children would react to it, but it is a worthwhile tale. Not as funny as some of Saunders' short stories.
Dec 06, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the bit of Douglas Adams style writing and the cute way the NIMBY (not in my backyard!) attitude is portrayed. Saunders' environmental background is showing there, I think.
Nov 08, 2010 Angela rated it it was amazing
I thought my George Saunders collection would remain incomplete for this delightful little book is currently POS. Luckily, my recent visit to Powell's-Portland proved fruitful and I walked away with a lovely copy of this illustrated tale. Very much in the vein of a fable or folktalke, Saunders and Smith combine their magics making this one rare potion and a delicious treat. It's odd, yet thoughtful. And wild, yet sane. It's no surprise that I'd love this one. The duo is a talented one and I've y ...more
Jack Waters
George Saunders writing kids books = Kobe Bryant playing in your rec. league.

I'd have loved reading this when I was young. It's a nice story with great visuals, and offers the type of moral lessons that only fine literature can provide.

The protagonist, Capable, lives up to her name. It's about mistakes and recovery and greediness and tribalism and realization and class warfare and goats.

If you need a primer on Actions & Consequences Based on Assumptions w/r/t The Lot Fallen Upon Folks, then
George Saunders and Lane Smith working together is like a dream come true.
Mar 05, 2016 Anjan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saunders' is known and pitched to adults for his analytical acumen as applied to the troubles of being compassionate in an uncaring world*. Saunders is a good writer because he has ruminated greatly upon the ideas he happens to share via stories.

I love how the book doesn't turn away from the uglier aspects of life and is able to maintain some form of realist optimism. A tricky part of growing up is learning how to not hide behind illusions of how the world ought to be, or false expectations for
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is an interesting illustrated fable/children's book from the always engaging George Saunders. The book takes place in the village of Frip, a seaside town that is completely reliant on goat milk as its sole means of survival. Unfortunately, enterprising creatures called Gappers enjoy attaching themselves to said goats, and singing very loudly, thus frightening the goats and ruining the goat milk harvest. This requires enterprising young children to brush off th ...more
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George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981 he received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996. He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysi ...more
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