cover image The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Hans Christian Andersen. Alfred A. Knopf, $14.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205000-7

The masterful pastel illustrations that distinguished the artist's Caldecott Honor-winning Puss in Boots transform yet another timeless tale into a modern classic. This graceful retelling of Andersen's touching story of true love between a malformed toy soldier and a paper ballerina is charged with both romance and heroism. Alternating perspectives achieve striking visual effect--toys and animals loom large as seen through the stoic vision of the brave soldier; at other points during his perilous journey he appears as a mere sliver of blue and red amid the city's bustle. The soft glow of candlelight imparts a shadowy warmth to the interior scenes, which feature a gaggle of handsomely turned out children admiring their Christmas bounty. Seidler's ( A Rat's Tale ; The Tar Pit ) polished prose perfectly complements the artwork: ``The tin soldier was so touched that he would have shed tin tears--if he hadn't been in uniform. As it was, he just looked at her, and she looked at him, neither of them saying a word.'' Though perfect for the holiday season, this exquisite book may well stay on the shelf year-round. All ages. (Oct.)