cover image The Magic Hill

The Magic Hill

A. A. Milne. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46147-0

For this winsome fairy tale, a first-time picture book illustrator imagines the characters from a story Milne wrote in 1925. Brown's fine ink line combines with pastel and bold hues in delicately detailed, small-scale watercolors. The opening illustration sets the tone: a foppish king of long ago, decked out in an ermine-rimmed red robe, looks quite bewildered by his frisky brood of six boys. The family portrait serves as the perfect foil for Milne's accompanying understated wit: ""The first three were boys, and he was glad about this, because a King likes to have three sons. But when the next three were boys also, he was not so glad, and he wished that one of them had been a daughter."" After a girl, Daffodil, is at last born, a fairy godmother grants her a christening gift: ""Let Daffodil/ The gardens fill./ Wherever you go,/ Flowers shall grow."" When the flaxen-haired child takes her first steps and dots the pathways with blooms, the King decrees that Daffodil must walk only on the flower beds rather than play on the paths with the other children. There is, of course, a happy-ever-after resolution, which Brown's art illumines with humor and charm. All ages. (Feb.)