cover image The Girl Who Drew a Phoenix

The Girl Who Drew a Phoenix

Demi, . . S&S/McElderry, $21.99 (52pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-5347-0

Like Demi's The Boy Who Painted Dragons , this lavishly illustrated story tells of a child who is helped in his/her art by divine beings, but this time the template is overworked. Once again, fold-out pages add drama to the art, the rich colors are breathtaking and the creatures are gilded and ornate. Even the plot is similar—in this case it is Queen Phoenix and her friends who take pity on Feng Huang and not only help her learn to draw better but inculcate a Wonder Woman list of qualities: wisdom, clear sight, equality, generosity and right judgment. Demi tries to define each power by demonstrating its opposite. For example, the Phoenix of Right Judgment tells Feng Huang, “To have Right Judgment you must pass through the fire of Jealousy!” First, the child artist produces a drawing of two girls standing back to back, their very topknots a study in hauteur; her next picture shows the same pair in an affectionate embrace. Demi's artwork is as exquisite as ever, and her phoenixes, incorporating red silk brocades, look especially magical. The predictable story and its faux Asian wisdom, however, are shopworn. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)