cover image CURSE IN REVERSE


Tom Coppinger, , illus. by Dirk Zimmer. . S&S/Atheneum, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83096-9

Debut author Coppinger relays a rewarding tale with a folksy, old-world charm, a quality reinforced by Zimmer's (Seven Spiders Spinning) puckish, watercolored pen-and-ink illustrations. The story has a time-tested premise: a tired, cold and hungry traveler—in this case, a witch—knocks on villagers' doors, requesting refuge for the night. When two residents with ample room turn her down, Agnezza punishes each with a curse. Not surprisingly, it is a poor, childless couple living in a one-room house who open their door to the weary woman, share their supper and offer her their sole bed. Husband and wife are understandably hurt when the witch repays their hospitality with "the Curse of the One-armed Man." After learning the dire consequences of the curses levied against the villagers who denied Agnezza shelter, kids will be pleased to discover how the generous couple's "curse" plays out. Coppinger brings a number of contemporary touches, e.g., the husband rather than the wife is relegated to the "one-armed" role (he performs kitchen chores with one arm while he juggles a much-wanted baby with the other). Zimmer uses a variety of cross-hatching styles to achieve a medley of textures, and creates a harmonious balance of multiple elements. With their comically hyperbolic facial features and expressions, the characters will keep the audience solidly entertained. Ages 4-8. (June)