cover image The Swan's Gift

The Swan's Gift

Brenda Seabrooke. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-360-5

A magical reward follows a good deed-in this case, refraining from hunting-in this handsomely illustrated if somewhat formulaic picture book. Anton's wheat crop fails one season when no rain falls, and by winter, his family's food supply has dwindled to nothing. When he goes out hunting one cold night, he finds ""a swan of such dazzling beauty that Anton could not look away."" He decides that he cannot possibly kill this magnificent creature for food, no matter how desperate his family's plight, and the swan then circles above him, releasing drops of water that harden into diamonds. With her obvious, happy ending, Seabrooke (The Bridges of Summer) puts a sluggish spin on well-worn motifs; although her prose is graceful, the resolution is readily predictable. Ma's (illustrator of The Painted Fan) and Red Means Good Fortune) elegant, subtly-toned watercolor and pencil full-bleed art gives the book a classic, timeless look. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)