cover image Philipok


Ann Keay Beneduce. Philomel Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23482-8

With their subtle coloring and lush detail, Spirin's watercolors add luster to the old-world charm of one of the Russian-born artist's own boyhood favorites, a children's story by Tolstoy. Philipok longs to go to school with his older brother Peter but must stay at home with Grandma. When Grandma falls asleep, however, Philipok creeps out of the house and, after a run-in with some village dogs, goes to the schoolhouse, where he proves to the teacher that he's clever enough to begin his studies. Beneduce's (previously teamed with Spirin on Joy to the World, reviewed Sept. 25) retelling is fluid and clear, but the real draw is the artwork. Spirin brings a certain romanticism to his translation of Slavic sensibility, from the traditional peasant clothing of the characters to schoolbooks sporting the Cyrillic alphabet. Rendered in a wintry palette of understated browns and grays, the scenes are full of expression and life. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)