cover image The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen

Hans Christian Andersen, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-220950-4

This Andersen tale, one of the few with a genuinely happy ending, provides a showcase for Ibatoulline’s dazzling gifts. The story of Kai’s enchantment and Gerda’s long search to rescue him offers the artist a bouquet of exotic scenes to bring to life. In one, a robber girl brings Gerda to her hideout; Ibatoulline (The Matchbox Diary) paints a dimly lit stable where a lion, flock of doves, reindeer, and other animals are held captive. In another, flickering firelight illuminates the interior of a Lapp woman’s tent. Dramatic special effects—a talking crow, a skyful of Northern Lights, and the eerily icy Snow Queen herself—are rendered in thrilling detail. Only the characters’ faces, which have the static look of portraits painted from photographs, ruffle the perfection of the spreads. The uncredited retelling (“Don’t you see she has the power within her?... Look at all the animals and people who have served her.... That is her true power”) draws little attention; it’s the magnificent artwork that will keep readers poring over the pages. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Oct.)