Robert D. San Souci, Author, Chronicle Books, Author, Robet D. San Souci, Author
Robert D. San Souci, Author, Chronicle Books, Author, Robet D. San Souci, Author , illus. by Rebecca Walsh. Chronicle $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-58717-212-0
Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004

With a princess who is not only kind but prefers "good books to good looks," San Souci's (The Talking Eggs ) clever adaptation of the classic British fairy tale brims with wit, quotable dialogue and a modern sensibility. Likewise, talented newcomer Walsh visually blends conventional fairy tale trappings with more contemporary, amusing details. Her distinctive style combines royal splendor with ordinary homespun details. On Rosamond's lovely crown, for instance, a cord loops under her chin like a child's costume tiara. San Souci reverses the tale's traditional roles, making his Rosamond plain but practical and her stepsister, Zenobia, a slave to her mirror. Each girl makes a trip to the well at the end of the world and is rewarded (or not) according to their natures. The generous Rosamond receives not only "true love and new wealth" but health for her father, whose illness occasioned her trip. Zenobia's selfishness turns her into a "snag-toothed, long-nosed, sail-eared, cross-eyed" wretch. Welsh wisely transforms the story's trio of macabre heads that float in the well into faces that resemble large coins; she subtly transforms Rosamond's plainness into a beauty that comes from an inner radiance; the artist makes the most of comic opportunities for depicting Zenobia's outlandish downfall. Rosamond's story contains enough wit and gentle instruction to please readers of all ages. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!