cover image The Little Golden Lamb

The Little Golden Lamb

Ellin Greene. Clarion Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71526-0

Greene (Ling-Li and the Phoenix Fairy) turns to a Hungarian version of ""The Golden Goose"" for this jaunty story. It has all the elements of a favorite folktale--a hard-working lad seeking his fortune, an animal with magical properties, a king ready to pay three bags of gold to anyone who can make his ailing daughter laugh and a cast of supporting characters whose misdemeanors are redeemed as the stuff of mirth. All these pieces cohere in a radiantly silly climax featuring a line of people stuck to each other and compelled to dance like the golden lamb at the head of the procession that travels right past the princess's window. Greene's lighthearted text moves along at a swift pace, befitting the fleet feet of the characters. Litzinger (Louella Mae, She's Run Away!) employs a sunny palette--one that is considerably more robust than the slightly bleached-looking cover art suggests. Her watercolor and pencil compositions puckishly exaggerate rounded forms, so that hillsides, trees and horizons become almost circular, and people and animals balloon to cheerful roly-poly shapes. She matches Greene in her pleasant mix of fantasy and whimsy. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)