Laura Ljungkvist, Author, Laura Ljungkvist, Retold by, Laura Ljungkvist, Illustrator . Abrams $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-4241-7

Working in flat, geometric shapes and cake-frosting colors, design whiz Ljungkvist distills the classic tale to its essence. In this ultra-modern version, Snow White's moon face is a perfect circle of the purest complexion, surrounded by a curvy black hairdo; her eyes are circles-within-circles and her nose a narrow pink isosceles triangle. Her evil stepmother, the queen, turns olive-green (with pimento-red lips) when the magic mirror reports, "You are fair, that is true, but Snow White is more beautiful than you." Snow White escapes into the woods, where vertical brown stripes simulate tree trunks against a black night. She takes up housekeeping at the seven dwarves' cottage, which includes a mathematically precise garden of purple radishes, spiky carrots and symmetrical apples; a blank, apple-shaped spot indicates that the queen has "put a deadly plan in action." Ljungkvist sticks to the original tale until the end, when an unusual royal comes to the rescue. "His skin was the hue of the blue sky on the morning he was born, and his hair the color of the sun." Prince Sunray, with his buttercup-yellow hair and swimming-pool-blue skin, makes a curious match for the cloud-colored heroine, and his arrival enlivens the storytelling. As in Ljungkvist's debut book, Toni's Topsy-Turvy Telephone Day, a thin black line runs through every image, tracing the dwarves' facial features, the shapes of trees and a friendly squirrel. Although the text may be familiar, the striking, carefully configured graphics are anything but Grimm. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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