cover image The Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Marine Tasso, trans. from the French by Noelia Hobeika, illus. by Thomas Baas. Little Gestalten (Prestel, dist.), $19.95 (48p) ISBN 978-3-89955-767-1

Tasso and Baas offer a deliciously eerie version of the unnerving legend of the piper who rids a town of its rat infestation, then leads its children away when he isn’t paid. Tasso sets a stage of joyful celebration as Christmas arrives at the quaint German town, but the mood quickly shifts to one of revulsion as Baas uses sinister shades of slate blue and red to create a macabre, carnival-like atmosphere, with jet-black rats scurrying over buildings, food, and furniture. Although Tasso’s ending, which suggests that the “echo of happy children laughing” can still be heard in Hamelin, is not as grim as in some retellings, this haunting interpretation will linger in readers’ minds. Ages 6–9. (Oct.)