cover image The Four Gallant Sisters

The Four Gallant Sisters

. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1901-8

Weaving together two tales by the Brothers Grimm, author Kimmel has created a feminist story with four satisfyingly strong female protagonists. Following their mother's death, each one sets off, disguised as a man, to learn a trade--``that way we can provide for ourselves and not be dependent on anyone.'' When they reconvene seven years later, they pool their newly acquired skills to battle a dragon and rescue the prince's bride and her four brothers. Kimmel's engrossing adaptation, while deftly told, is guilty of some reverse sexism: the queen mother perceives that the heroines are not men because men are not so tidy, clever or selfless. In the book's becoming design, each page's text is framed in a parchmentlike scroll; the illustrations, however, are less successful. Attempting to echo 16th-century European art, Yuditskaya's graceless work is weakened by rudimentary faces on posturing figures. Still, this well-intentioned book should be particularly appealing to girls. All ages. (May)