cover image Molly and the Prince

Molly and the Prince

Mary Pope Osborne. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-81941-7

Befriending a stray dog ``by the river in the reeds,'' a girl kisses his velvet fur. As they play, he leads her downriver and deep into the woods, where fantasy and myth overtake them. A Pan-like ``goat-man'' materializes and confides to the girl, ``This hound is other than he seems.'' This title, too, is other than it seems. Unlike Disney-esque frog-prince stories, Osborne's (see Haunted Waters, reviewed below) original tale touches the deep ground where children find secrets hidden from adult knowledge. Elegant prose and deceptively simple dialogue couch the rare accomplishment of a genuinely childlike voice. Sayles's (Nettie's Gift; Albie the Lifeguard) typically otherworldly illustrations straddle the divide between the real and the imagined. Pure pleasure for wide-awake readers and those ready for dreams. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)