Petrouchka: 2the Story of the Ballet

Vivian Werner, Author, John Collier, Author, John Collier, Illustrator
Vivian Werner, Author, John Collier, Author, John Collier, Illustrator Viking Children's Books $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-670-83607-9
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Since its first performance by the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1911, Stravinsky's tale of the hapless puppet, unlucky in love, has been a classic. As is generally the case, however, recasting performance into print is a challenging task, especially when it involves the nuances of dance and music. Though successful on several levels, this noble effort is ultimately flawed. On the surface, it's a classy package: Werner's retelling is smooth and sophisticated, and Collier is a masterful artist who here utilizes an impressionistic style reminiscent of Degas. Unfortunately, the narrative lacks fire--though elegant, it's aloof, a quality underscored by Collier's choice of a palette whose bleak, muted shades diminish the story's allure. Onstage, the ballet's success relies heavily on the audience's empathy with the little clown; here, the sense of detachment undermines that emotion. Young readers--especially those unfamiliar with the stage production--may find it hard to warm up to this collaboration. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)
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