cover image The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket

The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket

Sonia Levitin. Dial Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1029-0

Love is always worth the risk--that's the message pulsing through this thoroughly captivating story firmly rooted in the folktale tradition. Jack is a lad whose heart was once broken, and he now keeps it in a bucket, safe from harm. Fearful of rejection, he holds himself aloof from friends and neighbors, allowing nothing--neither delicious food generously shared, a lilting melody, a baby--to move or engage him. Magic cracks his resolve, though, when a carp is transformed into a maiden who steals his heart, promising to return it only when he's solved a riddle. He does so, losing his heart to the maiden but thereby gaining the richness of spirit he lacked. Levitin ( Incident at Loring Groves ; The Return ), is in fine form here; her eloquent, fluid story is a celebration of life and of love. Pinkney's ( The Talking Eggs ; Mirandy and Brother Wind ) dreamy, evocative watercolors, as subtly shaded as the dawn, are brimming with vitality and joy, though some readers may find his rather toothy characters--all of whom bear a curious resemblance to one another--a bit off-putting. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)