cover image The Black Bull of Norroway: A Scottish Tale

The Black Bull of Norroway: A Scottish Tale

Charlotte Huck. Greenwillow Books, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16900-8

Following Princess Furball and Toads and Diamonds, Huck and Lobel now reshape another traditional story, a labyrinthine Scottish tale set in Norway. A widow's youngest daughter announces that the man she marries need not be titled nor wealthy: ""I only want him to be kind and good and to love me. I'd even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway."" That very creature, ""known to be a monster,"" appears at her door when she, Peggy Ann, leaves home to seek her fortune. The bull brings the girl to three different castles on successive nights, announcing that each is the residence of one of his brothers, who are humans. After Peggy Ann removes a thorn from the bull's foot, breaking a spell and thereby restoring him to a handsome duke, the two become separated and years pass and several plot gyrations occur before the couple reconnects. In a concluding note, Huck refers to her heroine's ""long and arduous search for her lost love,"" but their reunion is roundly satisfying. The text is inventively set into Lobel's watercolor and black pen illustrations. An appealing folk-art quality gives the tale a suitably timeless look, while the thoughtful visual interpretations capture its emotional nuances. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)