cover image THE SEVEN DWARFS


Charles Dickens, Etienne Delessert, . . Creative Editions, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56846-139-7

Delessert (I Hate to Read) reveals what happens to the famous septet after Snow White wakes up; as she prepares to wed the prince the diminutive heroes are invited to be honored guests. The drama of the vengeful queen and her loquacious mirror becomes a long flashback; Stephane, the strongest-minded of the seven brothers, carefully considers the prince's offer that the dwarves take up residence at the palace. Dazzled by court life, the seven siblings nevertheless come to see that royal pageantry is not for them. Back in the forest, they eat leftover wedding cake. Dense type and arch prose ("Well, l'habit fait le moine…" says the palace tailor as he adjusts the dwarves' newly fashioned courtly attire) set the volume apart from other lavishly illustrated fairy tales and mark its appeal to an older audience. So do Delessert's paintings. Grotesque and delicate at the same time, they dwell on the dwarves' fantastically outsize noses and gap-toothed grins. A hallucinogenic tableau of wedding festivities shows a dancer poised on a rhinoceros's horn while carrying a tray of tuba-playing elephants. Fanciful, cinematic moments will intrigue older readers (as the other dwarves sleep, Stephane gazes moodily out the palace window at the swans), while this unique twist on the universally known tale will divert younger listeners. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)