cover image Prince Nautilus

Prince Nautilus

Laura Krauss Melmed. HarperCollins, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-04566-1

Melmed ( The Rainbabies ) serves up another original fairy tale, this one employing the classic good sister/bad sister motif. Kindhearted Fiona slaves away in the family's seaside hovel, cleaning and cooking while her elder sister, Columbine, idly preens. One day, Fiona finds a nautilus shell containing a bewitched prince. She agrees to help free him, thus beginning a quest in which she spends as much time compensating for her sister's lazy, selfish ways as she does annulling the enchantment. A surprise feminist ending finds the capable Fiona turning down the prince's inevitable marriage proposal and opting instead for further adventures. Although the conclusion seems a bit tacked on, the story remains an admirable effort. Melmed's fluid, poetic style feels very much at home in the fairy-tale genre, and Sorenson ( I Love You As Much . . . ) echoes her eloquence in impressionistic acrylics--his sweeping scenes enhance the story's timeless air. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)