cover image Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady

Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady

Selina Hastings. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $10.4 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-05823-4

Hastings, a British journalist, possesses an outstanding talent for storytelling. Her version of a tale from the Round Table seethes with suspense and will hold young readers in thrall. A hideous woman saves King Arthur's life when the Black Knight menaces him, but she demands a terrible payment, marriage to one of Arthur's knights. Noble Sir Gawain volunteers and his reward, in the grand way of fairy tales, is a beautiful wife when the loathly lady is freed from an evil spell. The illustrations can't be sufficiently praised. Wijngaard's paintings are magnificent, meticulously detailed, effulgent with the regal colors of medieval pageantry, framed by delicate flowers and symbols of royalty. Even more remarkable are the portrayals of people. Except for compassionate Guinevere, they show clearly how they shrink from the ""hell-hag,'' then rejoice when the transformed bride steps forth in her radiant loveliness. (812)