Ophelia's Shadow Theatre

Michael Ende, Author, Friedrich Hechelmann, Illustrator Overlook Press $14.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-87951-371-9
``There was once a little old lady called Ophelia who lived in a little old town.'' With a voice too soft to be an actress, Ophelia devotes her life to art as a prompter in her town's theater, committing to memory the great dramas. When the theater is forced to close, the bereft old lady encounters Shady, one of the world's unwanted shadows, in the shuttered theater and gives him a home. Miss Ophelia takes in many abandoned shadows, and teaches them her beloved plays, but an increase in rent forces the kind soul from her lodgings. The shadows come to the rescue of their benefactress by performing the works she has taught them; the fame of Ophelia's Shadow Theatre grows. Now an entrepreneur, Ophelia is approached by one last shadow seeking a home--``They call me Death.'' Miss Ophelia meets her dear shadows again at the gates of Heaven and, in Ophelia's Theatre of Light, they perform for the angels ``the beautiful language of the poets.'' Ende ( The Never end ing Story) has penned a superb story: a fable where good triumphs, and where artistry and humanity reign. Translator Bell has captured the essence of this fragile yet enduring lady in simple and moving language. Hechelmann's mystical paintings are a joy in themselves; they radiate with feeling and advance Ende's text magnificently. Although perhaps not for every taste, this is a work to be savored by sensitive and mature readers. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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