cover image The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever

The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever

Selina Hastings. Henry Holt & Company, $12.45 (25pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-0572-1

This Faustian tale is stylishly illustrated and retold with verve, but its ending may well alarm some young readers. Bodkin leaves his quiet home to search for immortality. He seems to find it, in the castle of the Old Man of the Mountain. But, after several centuries, Bodkin longs to return to his village. The Old Man sends him off on horseback, warning him not to get out of the saddle, no matter what. But Bodkin, after discovering that a bustling modern city has replaced his village, encounters a man who begs for his help. Bodkin complies and dismounts, only to discover that the old man is Death, who has come to claim him. This old story is a ceaselessly fascinating one, and modern children will be interested to see their own time portrayed as the future. But parental finesse will be required: the subtleties of the story are overwhelmed by the idea that a stranger can march one off to death by means of trickery. Ages 5-8. (March)