cover image Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale

Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale

Anthony L. Manna. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81093-0

In this version of a Mediterranean tale, a first-time effort for the author/illustrator team, a resourceful and determined king's daughter sets out to find a man who is ""five times beautiful and ten times kind."" Although Areti (whose name is the Greek word for virtue) doesn't lack for suitors, none of them interests her. So she takes up her wooden spoon and mixes together almonds, sugar and semolina. After kneading the dough and praying to God for 40 days and 40 nights, a man appears who is everything Areti wishes for. But the storms of life--in the form of an evil queen from a faraway kingdom who steals Areti's creation--threaten her plans and she must set off to search for her beloved Mr. Semolina-Semolinus. The retelling is fairly traditional, with simple, unadorned language that allows Potter's gleeful, folk-inspired artwork full play. Her soft, clear palette of powder blue, mossy green and nutty shades of brown capture Areti's strong but gentle spirit and the dreamlike world in which she seeks her soulmate. Full-page paintings with stylized, elongated figures and topsy-turvy perspectives alternate with spot art and vignettes. The child-like quality of this art, both naive and stubborn, gives testimony to the power of Areti's love and her willingness to follow her destiny. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)