cover image The Swan Maiden

The Swan Maiden

Ellin Greene, Howard Pyle. Holiday House, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1088-0

Retelling this late-19th-century story, Greene retains the feel and form of traditional folktale-so useful to storytellers-as well as Pyle's (1853-1911) conversational tone. When a king discovers that his tree is being pilfered of its golden pears, he sets each of his three sons, in turn, to catch the thief. The first two are lulled by otherworldly music; the youngest, who has stuffed his ears, discovers a lovely swan maiden, and instantly determines to marry her. First, however, he must free her from servitude to a three-eyed witch. Although Greene comments in an afterword about Pyle's stature as ``one of the best teachers of illustration in America,'' there are no samples of his art for the 1888 edition of this particular tale. Instead, Sauber serves up glowing pictures with fairly conventional figures-blond prince and maiden; and a witch whose beaky nose and unkempt tresses are more noticeable than the eye in her forehead. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)