Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales

Emily Jenkins, illus. by Rohan Daniel Eason. Candlewick, $17.99 (104p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6558-6
Fine, spare prose distinguishes these shrewd retellings of seven familiar tales. “Snow White” opens with a shiver: “There was once a frozen forest, cold as cold ever was.” Jenkins (Tiger and Badger) scarcely alters the stories; they end the way they generally do. Instead, she deepens and refines them, giving the characters humanity and individuality. When January, the queen in “Snow White,” looks in the mirror, she “wanted the mirror to show the face she had seen long ago, a face of smooth and shining ice.” Blunt, the only nonfool in a story about three fools, “felt quite lucky, suddenly, to have found a future wife so tenderhearted as Amity, noodle though she was.” The dialogue hums: “Why should I care if a dairy maid feels my skin?” the Frog Prince demands. Sometimes the tales are drawn into eerie relationship with each other (the hunter in “Red Riding Hood” is the same one who fails to kill Snow White). Eason’s drawings, one for each story, conjure an atmosphere of otherworldliness with deep forests and thatched cottages huddled in snow. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Illustration Ltd. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017
Release date: 09/05/2017
Genre: Children's
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