cover image The Crystal Mountain

The Crystal Mountain

Ruth Sanderson. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-77092-7

Sanderson (Papa Gatto) weaves a story as intricate and pleasant as the tapestry at the heart of this folktale, which has both Chinese and Norwegian origins (see Grace Tseng's White Tiger, Blue Serpent, illus. by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng, for a Chinese version). Anna earns a decent living by weaving beautiful brocades worthy of the noble classes. But the family money runs dangerously low when Anna has a dream about a lush paradise and becomes obsessed with weaving a picture of it. The painstakingly detailed project takes her three years, and upon its completion, the glorious tapestry is whisked away by greedy fairies who want to copy it. One by one Anna sends her three sons in search of her life's work. But only the youngest, Perrin, proves bold enough to brave the obstacles of the quest, which include scaling a crystal mountain. Structured like a classic fairy tale, the story combines bits of drama, suspense, romance and magic, with some surprises, too. The oil paintings, set in 15th-century Europe, depict a rugged rolling countryside as well as the ornate tapestries of the era. A spread on which Anna's tapestry springs to life is particularly memorable. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)