cover image Nicholas Pipe

Nicholas Pipe

Robert D. San Souci. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1764-0

Prolific storyteller San Souci (The Talking Eggs; The Hired Hand, reviewed Apr. 14) embroiders a 12th-century folklore fragment into an unabashedly romantic tale of a star-crossed couple. A fisherman's daughter, Margaret, falls in love with Nicholas Pipe, a merman who lives on land but must touch the sea every day or he will die. Although Pipe saves the father and daughter during a fierce storm, the distrustful fisherman forbids the match between Margaret and Pipe and then has Pipe carted away to join the king's collection of curiosities. Repentance, rescue and marriage soon follow. San Souci mixes traditional storybook language in with his own impeccable prose (""From the gathering dark and churning waves came screeches and the murmur of voices speaking a strange language. `We are doomed!' groaned [the father]""). Shannon's (The Rough-Face Girl) acrylics are most evocative when portraying the sea: the cloud-swept skies, dreamlike underwater vistas and chilling storm-tossed waves underscore the tale's drama. The bordered text is adorned with a single red rose and a seashell, emblems of the joining of land and sea that the lovers represent. Overall, a stylish collaboration. Ages 5-8. (June)