Valentine and Orson: Re-Created as a Folk Play in Verse and Paintings

Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-374-38078-6
Meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated, this medieval prose romance has been translated and recast by Burkert ( Cinderella ) into Chaucerian iambic pentameter. The mysterious Pacolet narrates as a 16th-century troupe of itinerant players performs the story of two brothers separated at birth, one raised at court and the other by a bear in the forest. It is a tale of chivalry, brotherhood and forgiveness, wherein the brothers conquer the awful Green Knight and outwit the giant Ferragus. At play's end, the brothers reunite their estranged parents who choose ``to dwell in joy and not in bitterness.'' Like Brueghel, whose paintings inspired the illustrations, Burkert's canvases are brilliantly colored and richly detailed, full of round-faced peasants and robust farmers. The exuberant actors--the ``giant'' teetering on his stilts, the false Archbishop who doubles as a bear--are as endearing as the complicated story that asks its readers to ``Bear witness, / Friends, to forces of forgiveness, / True devotion, and humility, / For they unite us as a family.'' A Floyd Yearout Book. All ages. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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