cover image The Tinderbox

The Tinderbox

Hans Christian Andersen, Barry Moser. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (29pp) ISBN 978-0-316-03938-3

``Dismayed that tales of wonder and magic are set in foreign lands and distant times,'' Moser has chosen to ignore all but the skeletal plot of Andersen's original story and to rewrite it making use of American characters and settings and a mellifluous Southern voice for the narration. Andersen's hero becomes Yoder Ott, a Confederate soldier on his way home from the Civil War; the old witch is changed into a wily mountain man and the princess is the henpecked mayor's beguiling daughter, Elvira Abernathy. Most mysterious are the large-eyed dogs, which in Moser's rendering are both realistic and wonderfully magical at the same time. With characteristic clean lines and rich paintings, the book's design is as splendid as its recast story. Moser's work breathes new life into an old classic, from its arresting cover to its satisfying ending. All ages. (Sept.)