cover image The Firebird

The Firebird

Robert D. San Souci. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0799-3

This Russian folktale--made famous by the Stravinsky ballet--is ripe with the delicious ingredients of so many classic stories: a beauteous princess trapped in an enchanted garden, the evil sorcerer who holds her there, fierce dragons, a deadly secret. And to this potent mixture comes a brave, smitten prince who uses a magic talisman from the legendary half-bird/half-woman to free his love. San Souci's ( The Talking Eggs ; The Enchanted Tapestry ) polished retelling resonates with the rich cadences of myth and fairy tale, and although Waldherr's ( Rapunzel ) darkly atmospheric paintings are somewhat uneven--her Firebird is a radiant creature, but the other characters are not always as finely drawn--they bolster the atmosphere of mystery and enchantment that pervades the tale. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)