cover image The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute

Chris Raschka. Atheneum/Jackson, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4902-1

Dreamy signature spreads by Raschka (New Shoes) capture Mozart’s famous opera scene by scene, explaining the action with simple text and peppering it with speech-balloon exclamations. A beginning note introduces the characters: Sarastro, the ruler of the day, and his adversary, the Queen of the Night; her daughter Pamina and her suitor, Prince Tamino; and their comic counterparts, the birdcatcher Papageno and his true love, Papagena. As the story begins, Pamina has been captured by the evil Sarastro from the Queen of the Night, and Tamino must rescue her. Raschka’s ribbonlike panels unfurl like the Bayeaux Tapestry, embellished with loosely washed creatures and patterns. Some of the opera’s elements may baffle young readers, such as its talk of love and virtue, and the temple priests who compel Tamino and Papageno to undergo mysterious trials. But moments of comedy (“You busted, bozos!”), video game–like magical items (the flute, an enchanted lock), and a gentle conclusion (“And even she is forgiven, because in these temples there is only friendship”) offer plenty of satisfaction. With guidance and, if possible, the soundtrack itself, it should prove a friendly entrée into one of Mozart’s most beloved works. Ages 4–8. [em](Aug.) [/em]