The Squirrel Wife

Philippa Pearce, Author, Wayne Anderson, Illustrator , illus. by Wayne Anderson. Candlewick $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3551-0

With consummate skill, the late author of the British classic Tom's Midnight Garden duplicates the pitch and vocabulary of a time-tested fairy tale in this original story. Rewarded by the “green people” with a wife who knows the forest as intimately as the squirrel she really is, Jack finds happiness. But when his cruel brother arouses the suspicions of the villagers, Jack and the squirrel wife must shield each other. Anderson's (Dragonology ) delicately stippled colored pencil illustrations, while distinctly contemporary in their palette and angularity, have something of the feeling of medieval portraits. Dressed in jerkins and breeches, the characters appear full-face or else at right angles to the viewer, proceeding stiffly across the page, fingers outspread. The massive trees of the forest that lie at the literal and figurative heart of the story materialize as if out of a mist. Pearce's tale unfurls at a leisurely pace, allowing readers to relish its moments of magic: “She could lay her hand upon a tree and tell its age exactly, even before Jack had cut it down and counted its year rings.” Blending enchantment, quiet heroism and a good comeuppance, this hypnotic tale is memorable also for the currents of loss that enable its happy ending. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/03/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 61 pages - 978-0-690-76678-3
Hardcover - 30 pages - 978-1-4063-0051-2
Library Binding - 61 pages - 978-0-690-76679-0
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