cover image The Three Princes: A Tale from the Middle East

The Three Princes: A Tale from the Middle East

Eric A. Kimmel. Holiday House, $17.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1115-3

Kimmel's sprightly retelling of a Middle Eastern folktale and Fisher's ambient artwork shimmer with wisdom and magic. A princess sends each of three princes to find a ``wondrous object'' so that one will prove himself worthy of her hand. The suitors are cousins, and after a year's search they reconvene to display their treasures: a crystal ball that shows what is happening anywhere, a flying carpet that speeds to any destination, and an orange that will cure any illness. When the ball reveals the princess on her deathbed the men combine their gifts to rescue her and, revived, she decides to marry the one ``most responsible for saving her.'' Love and uncommon good sense prevail. Sly humor and high spirits buoy Kimmel's text. At the same time a sense of mystery and wonder (``In the tomb of a forgotten king I discovered this'') underlines the work, so that it becomes both fairy tale and modern fable. Fisher ( Kinderdike , Children's Forecasts, Dec. 20) suggests the exotic Arabian setting with a rich palette of striking tones--pink desert skies, violet vistas--and by incorporating unexpected closeups and unusual angles in his compositions. The play of light and shadow is spectacular. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)