Fool of World/Flying

Christopher Denise, Author Philomel Books $14.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-399-21972-6
In a stunning picture book debut, Denise dresses up the familiar Russian folktale with a cast of small woodland creatures, each cunningly cuddly in period costume and each craftily selected to reflect the character trait needed to drive the plot. The story, about a ``fool'' who determines to build a flying ship and thus win the hand of the Tsar's daughter, is little changed from the version in the 1874 Skazki of Polevoi ; Denise's dramatic, large-scale acrylic paintings are the real news here. Light dapples the forest over which the galleon soars; shadows cast a somber mood in the Tsar's opulent palace. Illustrations sometimes happily spill into the margins, for example, a staircase arches out of the picture frame in a view of the palace interior. Elsewhere, Denise creates a sense of infinitely expanding horizons, as in the final sumptuous scene of a wedding, wherein motifs on palace archways begin to repeat the story until they fade into the distance. Throughout, small character portraits punctuate blocks of text, generously endowing the book with a series of visual delights. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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