cover image King Midas and the Golden Touch

King Midas and the Golden Touch

Charlotte Craft. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13165-4

The mother-daughter duo that produced Cupid and Psyche sumptuously interprets a familiar Greek myth. A note at the beginning explains that the text is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's retelling, and it is structured like a fairy tale. Midas's kindness to a stranger earns him his ill-fated wish; Midas's love for his daughter inspires his remorse; and in the end, he is magically redeemed. The author writes fluidly and capaciously, invoking castle rose gardens and secret chambers of treasure. The lavish oil-over-watercolor paintings, said to be set in the Middle Ages, make overtures to the Renaissance in their lush compositional style and the characters' costumes. As Kinuko Craft's admirers will expect, her attention to detail is unflagging: embroidered, jeweled clothes almost seem to rustle, and the palace's columns, stairways and arches form dizzying arcades. At first her gold palette dazzles, but as the insidious gilt trail extinguishes the vibrant range of colors, the dark side of Midas's supposed good fortune is manifested as clearly in the pictures as in the text. A regal treatment. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)