cover image The Woodcutter's Coat

The Woodcutter's Coat

Ferida Wolff. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-316-95048-0

This winsome tale of a wayward garment is rendered all the more delightful by its antic illustrations. A woodcutter buys himself a fine, warm coat. But when a thief steals it, the coat is off on a merry journey through the village--it changes hands repeatedly, only to end up with the woodcutter at last. Wolff ( Pink Slippers ; Bat Mitzvah Blues ) recounts her story in the unadorned, declarative sentences of a folktale (the story is, in fact, drawn from an old Yiddish proverb). Especially satisfying is the sweetly ironic, here-we-go-again ending, in which coat and woodcutter are reunited--for the present. but perhaps not for long. In Wilsdorf's ( Philomene ) detail-packed ink-and-watercolor illustrations, the fur-trimmed garment wends its way through village scenes that exude the teeming life of Brueghel and the manic energy of George Booth. In a bustling barbershop, demonic children squirt each other with shaving cream and a waiting customer proudly displays the lone hair on his bald pate. Plump patrons down luscious desserts in the town bakery, where a cat snoozes on a shelf and children wreak havoc. A low-key treat. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)