cover image The Golden Bird

The Golden Bird

Neil Philip. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-70522-6

Shimmering pages, agleam with gold ink, gussy up this traditional fairy tale. A greedy king orders each of his three sons to search for the thief who stole fruit from a golden apple tree. The youngest son-one of the Grimms' least likely heroes-steadily ignores the advice of a sage fox who, despite the prince's well-meaning but inept efforts, leads him to untold riches. The text is long for the picture-book audience, not easily read aloud in a single sitting. Ornate blue-and-white borders frame delicate, portrait-like illustrations, evocative in places of medieval story tapestries or a book of hours. Lavish though somewhat arbitrarily applied gold ink embellishments to the illustrations and borders stand out most, however, placing this pretty interpretation at the opposite end of the spectrum from such moodier Grimm renditions as Sergei Goloshapov's The Six Servants (reviewed below). An elaborate, gifty volume. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)