cover image The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Jen Corace. Abrams, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0432-1

Teaming up for another fairy tale retelling, following Hansel and Gretel (2008), Corace and Rylant breathe life into Hans Christian Andersen's story of a one-legged tin soldier who falls in love with a dancing doll. She's as delicate as he is pokerfaced, but he sees that they have one thing in common: "Most amazingly of all, she balanced on one leg!" After a jealous goblin knocks the soldier out the window, he is pushed downstream in a newspaper boat and swallowed by a fish, but he meets his fate "with courage" until he can see the doll again. Rylant preserves the story's character-building insistence on the soldier's decorum throughout his ordeal. At the same time, the sight of him in his dress uniform, bayonet at the ready, lodged upside down in a garden bed or lying patiently in the belly of the huge fish will make readers smile. The slightly oversize format gives Corace scope to paint the period interiors from a toy's-eye view, echoing Rylant's opening observation: "Toys have their own mysterious lives and adventures that we may never know." Ages 4 – 8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)