A faithful retelling of a classic tale, dramatic snow-speckled street scenes and luxuriantly thick pages all earmark this picture book as a volume to be cherished. Pinkney (Going Home) transports the eponymous protagonist from Andersen's European setting to the bustling city streets and crowded tenements of early 1920s America. Aching with cold and desperate to earn money for her impoverished family, the young ragamuffin vendor will surely call to mind the plight of homeless people, familiar to so many contemporary children. The warm, comforting visions (a sumptuous feast, a twinkling Christmas tree, her late grandmother's loving face) that appear to the girl as she slowly burns through her wares shine bright as day in Pinkney's vividly detailed ink-and-watercolor compositions, as finely wrought as his admirers expect. The girl's cherry-red babushka and the fancy garb of harried passersby offer contrast to the stark gray sidewalks and brick buildings. The story's haunting death imagery--the girl slumped and frozen, her spirit soaring toward peace--may disturb the very young, but ultimately Pinkney's vision proves as transcendent as Andersen's. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999 Release date: 10/01/1999 Genre: Children's
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