cover image Good Griselle

Good Griselle

Jane Yolen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-231701-0

Yolen reaches new heights in this flawless tale. Patterned after the story of Job, it concerns one Griselle, a lace maker in Paris of long ago. Reports of her goodness so enrage the gargoyles on a nearby cathedral that they place a wager one Christmas Eve with their holy counterparts, the stone angels. Their bet? To test Griselle's goodness by thrusting upon her ""an ugly and unlovable child."" The angels consent, and the gargoyles send a hideous, squalling imp to the woman's doorstep. Though the foundling tests her sorely indeed, Griselle proves faithful, and in a particularly poignant ending, her place in heaven and that of her homely but much loved son are assured. The prose is lush but exquisitely restrained, and moves to the measured cadences of another, more gracious era. The story creates new opportunities for Christiana's (White Nineteens) brooding, mysterious watercolor art. Part impressionist, part Arthur Rackham, wholly original, rendered largely in shades of gray but with an occasional touch of color, the illustrations reveal a world where crouching gargoyles hint of dark purposes and the shadowed and oblique are infinitely more intriguing than the overt. In a word, heavenly. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)