cover image The Boardwalk Princess

The Boardwalk Princess

Arthur Levine. Tambourine Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10306-4

The Grimm fairy tale ``Brother and Sister'' is transported to turn-of-the-century New York City in this richly comic story whose opening sets the tone--``Once upon a time, in a strange land called Brooklyn. . . .'' In charmingly sly prose, Levine ( All the Lights in the Night ) tells of the siblings Myron and Sadie, gifted dressmakers enslaved to an evil witch-cum-sweatshop-owner. When they attempt to escape, the vindictive hag changes Myron into a mouse--a garment-district Stuart Little with a nose for fabric bargains--but steadfast Sadie keeps him in her pocket as they flee to live in a hand-sewn tent on the Coney Island boardwalk. Levine's finely crafted text is peppered with flippant, tongue-in-cheek humor. ``She was last year's news now,'' Levine says of the witch before dispatching her in the tale's happy ending. A delight, too, is the proto-Donald Trump real-estate tycoon (named simply ``the Tycoon''), who rescues the comely Sadie and her brother. The story is ideally complemented by Guevara's ( Emmett's Snow ball ) riotous pencil, acrylic and gouache illustrations. The artist's vivid palette recalls 19th-century poster art, and her eye for detail is masterful--laundry zigzags across tenement alleys; the witch watches her spell unfold from the corner of a frame; buttons pop on Myron's mouse outfit when he is restored to his normal shape. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)