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The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,501 ratings  ·  520 reviews
In the seaside village of Frip live three families: the Romos, the Ronsens, and a little girl named Capable and her father. The economy of Frip is based solely on goat’s milk, and this is a problem because the village is plagued by gappers: bright orange, many-eyed creatures the size of softballs that love to attach themselves to goats. When a gapper gets near a goat, it l ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Random House (first published November 24th 2000)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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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
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2012 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
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book one could read to their kids or kids could read by themselves. It won praise from a well-known child psychiatrist (and he wrote kid’s books too), Robert Coles (as so stated by him, inside back cover: a wonderfully engaging story for our children, and for us—told with wry humor and with moral energy. We all live in this book’s world of Frip, and are connected to others in that world, no matter their nature—that’s what we’re prompted to remember by this marvelous tale.”

There are thr
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
"She soon found that it was not all that much fun being the sort of person who eats a big dinner in a warm house while others shiver on their roofs in the dark. That is, it was fun at first, but then got gradually less fun, until it was really no fun at all."

A children's book by George Saunders??

Yes, it's true . . . and I just took a fond stroll down memory lane with it.

Long before I discovered Saunders' short stories, I read this sly and profound fable (initially published in 2000). I actually
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
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 these
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jason Pettus
(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
Jun 02, 2008 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
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
A whimsical story about loving your neighbor and being happy with what you have. All of sudden, one smart-ish gapper decides to change how gappers torment goats in the little mythical town of Frip. In response, the daughter of the goats' owner, who is improbably named Capable, is forced to change her family's life. What follows is a lesson in sharing, caring, and survival for the whole tiny town of Frip. ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The world needs more children's books for adults. This is crazy good fun. ...more
Most adults are really aseholes in this book, which seems to be the case in more children books.

At any rate a very weird and funny stories.
Jef Sneider
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this little book. Saunders' simple story about the necessity of community is as beautiful as it is weird. Lane Smith's illustrations are gorgeously grotesque. And the little funny Gappers are as charming as fictitious sea-burs can be.

Parents of the world. Do your child a favor. Read them George Saunders. The future will thank you.
Favorite line:

""Just because a lot of people are saying the same thing loudly over and over, doesn't mean it's true."
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, fiction
Very George Saunders-esque: enjoyable, quirky and with a lesson to absorb.
Jennifer Lavonier
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lady Shockley
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Allegorical Fiction / Fans of Lane Smith
In the tiny seaside village of Frip - three houses, ten people, and numerous goats - the residents find themselves beset by gappers, tiny burr-like creatures that attach themselves to the local goats and shriek with joy, eventually driving their caprine victims into a decline. The children of Frip all spend their days ridding their goats of gappers, and throwing the pests into the sea, only to see them return the next day. Then one day, rather than attacking the goats belonging to all three of t ...more
Last week, I attended the Rain Taxi Review of Book's 20th Anniversary celebration at Macalester College in St. Paul (read more about it on my blog, MSP Adventure Time), and the guest of honor was George Saunders, introduced as "one of the best writers on the planet." I would say that's not hyperbole. In addition to discussing his inspiring philosophies on writing and storytelling, he also read from this book, celebrating the publication of its 15th anniversary reprint. For those in the audience ...more
Francesca Brunner
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 make h ...more
Nov 19, 2008 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
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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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