cover image Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Walter McVitty, Margaret Early. ABRAMS, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-1888-7

This is a beautiful edition of the classic tale from The Thousand and One Nights . Early's highly detailed, bordered illustrations offer tiny geometric mosaics in each picture, and combine dark greens, salmon pink, red, white and bronze to great effect. The characters, musical instruments and settings are all well suited to the tale. The book, however, is marred by complicated prose; the sentences are cluttered with grammatical turns and bends that slow the pace: ``Thus it was that the robber chief, disguised in a long beard, came to be invited to eat in the house of the man he planned to kill.'' Sentences like this carry a certain weight and suspense, but as a staple of the prose style, they fail. Fortunately, the art alone is worth the price. The characters Morgiana and brave Ali Baba come through with great charm. All ages. (Mar.)