cover image The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries

The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries

Rosemary Wells, , illus. by Petra Mathers. . Viking, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-05960-7

Inspired by a real-life mystery,Wells (the McDuff books) crafts a fanciful imagining of the short earthly lives, and longer Heavenly ones, of two French girls legendary for the miracles they performed for their kin and townsfolk. In Biblical times, in the area now known as southern France, two best girlfriends, both named Marie, were inseparable. Day in and day out, they fished, crabbed and went clam digging off the coast of their small town. But when a sudden storm turns the tide on a clam-digging expedition, the two 16-year-olds perish in the wild sea. They arrive in Heaven dripping wet and bargain with a stern God for a second chance at life on Earth. Though God makes no promises, the girls find themselves " in between the two worlds/ entre les deux mondes " able to eventually row their hovering boat back home, where they spend years appearing to help people in need—curing a sick baby, saving a child trapped in a well. Mathers (Strange Mr. Satie ) captures a mood of eerie whimsy in her playfully elegant gouache artwork with evocative scenery and stylish compositions. Her images of girls who just wanna have fun—and do good deeds for others—as they sail the clouds in a humble, ethereal vessel, match this intriguing and inspirational story. An author's note offers more detail on the real Maries and Wells's fascination with them. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)