Paperback: 40 pages
Author: Marianna Mayer
Illustrator: Kinuko Y. Craft
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4. In this lavishly illustrated but poorly structured retelling of the classic Grimm tale, Mayer retains little of the original, making major and inexplicable changes in the story. Abandoning the direct simplicity of the folk tradition found in Errol Le Cain's version (Penguin, 1981), Mayer fundamentally alters the main characters, making the old soldier a golden-haired youth, the eldest daughter the youngest, and the old crone a mystifying vision of a "regal" woman. She further confuses the plot by introducing several new and unnecessary elements which are never fully developed (a fortune-teller, a "half-forgotten" prophecy), leaving the plot muddled and readers feeling cheated. Mayer's prose contributes to the muddle, relying on long cliched descriptions and an excessive use of adjectives ("the wizened old fortune-teller's eyes burned bright, and her thin voice crooned like a haunting echo"). Overall, the language is too ornate and cumbersome to sustain children's interest or be effective as a read-aloud. Craft's illustrations are much more successful. For the most part, her paintings are rich and luminous, appropriately depicting the romanticized couple in an opulent fairy tale setting. Several are striking in their design and use of light, but a few are disconcertingly flat and garish. Evocative vignettes, placed on nearly every page, elaborate small details of setting or action. While Craft's illustrations make this an attractive addition to folk/fairy tale collections, Mayer's overblown text is inappropriate for both the genre and the intended audience. Libraries with a strong demand for multiple versions of fairy tales may want to purchase this for the illustrations alone, but those owning the Le Cain version can pass it by.
- Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.