The Happy Prince

Oscar Wilde, Author, Jane Ray, Illustrator Dutton Books $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-45367-3
Ray's (Magical Tales from Many Lands; The Story of Christmas) folksy, gilt-laden artwork graces this somewhat formal abridgment of Wilde's tale about an enchanted statue. The Happy Prince, who had lived a happy life and died a happy man, is now immortalized high above the city as a golden and bejeweled statue. For the first time the royal sees the suffering, poverty and misery of the common people. Sharing his sympathetic view with a sparrow, the prince persuades the bird to postpone its migration and instead to deliver his gold leafing, his sapphire eyes and ruby belt to those who need them. Soon the sparrow dies of cold and the prince, now shabby, is removed from its pedestal and melted down. Though young readers may appreciate the lessons of selflessness and sacrifice here, the telling may seem to them stilted and even occasionally disjointed. Ray's characteristically rich palette and her delicate borders and backgrounds provide the visual magic that keeps this sentimental tale afloat. Ages 7-up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
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