cover image South Pacific

South Pacific

James A. Michener. Harcourt Children's Books, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200618-1

While the musical South Pacific has won a permanent place in American culture, a prose adaptation appears an odd choice for a children's book. Bestselling author Michener retells the story of the play, which is drawn from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific . The text, with a short introduction and a final ``storyteller's note,'' is a distilled, unadorned version with little dialogue. Emile de Becque's two part-Tonkinese children (which might hook young readers' interest) barely make an appearance here, the story, though the issue of racism in the two parallel love stories is plainly stated. Hague's artwork displays certain technical flaws: his human figures are static and unrealistic, beginning with a bland cover depiction of Nellie. On the other hand, the artist's sense of color and design, particularly in stagey group scenes, works well in this exotic setting. Overall, a muted palette and somewhat stilted prose produce a drab effect that may well limit the appeal of this ill-conceived project. All ages. (Sept.)