cover image Willa and the Wind

Willa and the Wind

Janice M. Del Negro, , illus. by Heather Solomon. . Cavendish, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5232-4

An old fairy tale undergoes a magical transformation in Del Negro's (Lucy Dove ) capable hands. According to the old Norse tale, a boy receives charmed gifts from the North Wind, and loses them just as quickly to a scoundrel landlord. Del Negro's version stars a girl named Willa Rose Mariah McVale and adds depth and spirit to the entire cast, while Solomon's (Clever Beatrice ) swirly-whirly watercolors have the effect of letting spring light into a musty attic. Willa gets magic gifts from the North Wind, too, but the real charm of this version is derived from her spirited exchanges with the pale, chilly-looking Old Windy. Solomon paints Willa with a red peasant dress and long fiery braids; she looks like a cousin of Pippi Longstocking, and sounds like her, too: "Don't yell at me, you no-good, no-account thieving windbag!" she shouts. "I want the cornmeal you stole, so give it back." Old Windy replies in blue upper-case letters, almost poignantly (and with the ability to make a good pun, as well). "Look, little girl ," he says, "I am a fair wind ." Willa convinces Old Windy to keep helping her until she can punish the true thief (gently) and impress her skeptical sister, to boot. Solomon's mixed-media artwork layers watercolors that give the compositions movement, and readers can pore over details in the collage of flower and fauna, elfin and woodland creatures. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)