cover image The Boy Who Held Back the Sea

The Boy Who Held Back the Sea

Lenny Hort, Thomas Locker. Dial Books, $15.99 (31pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0406-0

This retelling of the traditional Dutch folktale is coupled with Locker's masterful oil paintings, which recall well-known works such as Rembrandt's ""Night Watch'' and several Vermeers. A little boy, Pieter, is sent to his room because he has misbehaved. So his grandmother tells him of another bad boy, Jan, who held back the sea. Pieter serves merely as the framework for the account of the legend, which distances readers from the action. The scenery is magnificentluminous skies, light-infused landscapes, a tumultuous seacreating a chiaroscuro effect that recalls the Dutch masters. However, Jan is merely a detail in the paintings. The real thrust of the taleJan's mischief, his fear at the discovery of the leak, his determination, his misery through the night, the suffering and then pride of his parentsis lost in the paintings; the text is overshadowed by the grand scale of the artwork. All ages. (September)