The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Mercer Mayer, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $13.95 (43p) ISBN 978-0-02-765361-8
Mayer offers a lavishly illustrated prose retelling of the legend of the Pied Piper, who rid Hamelin of its rats only to lure away its children as well when denied a promised payment. The medieval details in the pictures make this Hamelin a grim, menacing town indeed, rendered so not only by the profusion of truly ferocious, red-eyed rats but also by the grotesque cast of the human characters. Mayer has chosen to emphasize the mayor's perfidy: he is seen as a pig-like, shifty politician from the start, further blackening the mood. This is strong stuff, best suited for older children. The text is haunting and evocative, but is considerably darker than the best-known version of the legend, Browning's brisk, lively verses. In fact, younger audiences may be more comfortable with the picture-book versions of Browning's poem, whose sprightliness helps mitigate the horrific aspects of the tale, or with Tony Ross's lighthearted adaptation. All ages. (September)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
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