cover image Lucia and the Light

Lucia and the Light

Phyllis Root, , illus. by Mary GrandPré. . Candlewick, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2296-1

Root (Big Momma Makes the World ) draws deftly from Nordic folklore to shape this tidy tale set high in the mountains of the Far North, where Lucia lives in a cozy cabin with her mother, baby brother, "velvet-brown cow" and "milk-white cat." One fierce, windy winter, the sun fails to rise over the mountaintop for days on end; in the dark cabin, the baby begins to "fret and fuss," the cow stops giving milk and the "fire smoked and shivered and refused to heat the corners of the house or bake the bread." GrandePré (Sweep Dreams ) paints the shadows stretching eerily along the cabin's walls, yet still maintains the warm bonds of the small family. Against her mother's wishes, Lucia and her cat set out in the darkness to climb the mountain where the sun once rose. When they finally reach the peak, Lucia encounters fearsome-looking, hungry trolls who tell her they have hidden the sun away and that they intend to eat her. The brave lass tries to distract them, but it is the quick-thinking feline who manages to unravel the sun's wrappings. As the light washes over the mountainous terrain, the palette of GrandePré's incandescent pastel art changes dramatically. Shades of gray and blue give way to brilliant, warm hues. Lucia's triumphant homecoming brings this winter adventure to a sunny close. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)