cover image Talking Tree

Talking Tree

Inna Rayevsky. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21631-2

A princess in distress, a nasty witch, an evil ogre and his crafty daughter are the leading characters in this lively Italian folktale, retold and illustrated by a talented team. At the story's center is a king who collects rare objects who, learning of the existence of a Talking Tree, launches a search for the curiosity, which turns out to be a princess under a witch's spell. In order to free the lovely lady, the king must chop down the tree with the ogre's axe, kill the witch and marry the princess. The determined royal makes quick work of the first two requirements and is about to fulfill the third when he encounters an unexpected obstacle, which provides a gratifying 11th-hour twist. In this stylish retelling, the sophisticated vocabulary occasionally stretches beyond the comprehension of the younger end of the intended audience. In keeping with the story's fanciful atmosphere, the artist incorporates both classical and innovative elements in his striking pictures. Ages 5-9. (May)