cover image Little Lame Prince

Little Lame Prince

Rosemary Wells, Richard Ed. Wells. Dial Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0788-7

Although based on the Dinah Maria Mulock Craik novel, Wells's picture book retelling is devoid of the sentimental flavor of the original. The comic illustrations underscore the droll aspects of the text which, like the best of Ungerer or Steig, is filled with dry humor and delicious details. A vain chambermaid, more intent on fixing her eyelashes than minding the baby, drops Prince Francisco on the marble floor, causing his lameness. When his parents die soon after, his Uncle Osvaldo, a yellow-eyed porker who swills brandy and smokes cigars, shuts the prince in a tower and wreaks havoc on his peaceful kingdom. Eventually, Francisco's fairy godmother--``with limited powers''--sees to it that he is established as the rightful ruler of El Cordoba, where ``no one cares about your legs because your head is wise and your heart is kind.'' As winsome as Shy Charles and as ebullient as Max, Wells's gentle prince is a charmer. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)