cover image The Magic Kerchief

The Magic Kerchief

Kirby Larson. Holiday House, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1473-4

Youngsters will likely be hard pressed not to laugh at the way a kerchief works its magic on tart-tongued Griselda. The crotchety old woman has alienated herself from her fellow villagers, but occasionally feels ""the weight of her loneliness."" One evening a traveler appears begging shelter, and Griselda, grumbling all the while, accommodates her. The visitor rewards her grudging kindness with a beautiful kerchief: ""While you wear [it], you will find great riches."" ""Paah,"" answers Griselda, but sure enough, the first time she wears it her tongue suddenly seems to have a mind of its own; where once it found insults, now it finds compliments. As surprised as anyone at her unexpected burst of good will, an indignant Griselda returns home and soon receives great riches indeed, as her kind acts are rewarded by a host of new friends. Larson's (the Quinn Kelley books) droll and buoyant original folktale bristles with lively description (e.g., Griselda's lips clamped ""as tight as a beggar's fist around a gold coin""), while Litzinger's (Sing, Sophie!) piquant pastels drape it with cheer. Her simple lines and geometric patterns contribute to illustrations seasoned with merry folk-art touches--from hearts and flowers to the rounded shapes of Griselda and her neighbors, all of them as plump as pincushions. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)