San Souci never disappoints readers, and here presents another interesting folk tale. This one, however, is also politically correct. Prince Vachagan, who has been spoiled by his parents, is handsome and good-hearted. But since he never saw a need to learn to read and write, he is astounded when he falls in love with a weaver's daughter, Anait, who agrees to marry him only when he can read, write, and do some type of handiwork. Once he applies himself, he not only wins Anait as his wife, he finds self satisfaction in his literacy and expertise as a weaver. In fact, his weaving and his wife end up saving his life. This folk tale will delight readers of all ages, and the illustrations are worthy of any fine art gallery.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5On the watch for a traditional tale with a strong female figure? This Armenian story features a weaver's daughter who requires the idle prince who courts her to become both literate and skilled at a craft. He does, weaving a unique carpet to prove his achievement. She herself learns to ride and wield a sword, so they are prepared to reign, but also ready for changes in fortunes. When Vachagan is imprisoned by a greedy demon, his skill at the loom saves his life, and also enables him to send a coded message to his queen-wife. Anait reads the pattern and rides at the head of an army to rescue her king-husband. If the patterning of the story is a bit too geometric (the prince's initial reform is quite abrupt), the story is still a lively adventure with the satisfying shape of fairy tales. In the pictures, too, a simple but romantic style and a touch of the marvelous place readers firmly in the world of the tale. Col(the prince's initial reform is quite abrupt), the story is still a lively adventure with the sat of green and lapis. Like the delicate frames around each picture, they are not weighted with detail but suggest the exotic. A faint flavor of the 1930s film style links this Armenian story with its new American audience.Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
From San Souci (Nicholas Pipe, 1997, etc.), a blending of a handful of Armenian folktales into one story that can be filed under plain old good advice, ornately illustrated by Col¢n. In days of yore, there was a prince by the name of Vachagan, a good but uneducated man, both rich and powerful. Out hunting one day, he happens across Anait, daughter of a weaver, possessed of a quick wit, ready laugh, good sense, great beauty, and magic in her fingers when at the loom. The prince proposes, Anait demurs; she will not marry a man who cannot read nor write, nor earn a living with his hands: "Times change," she notes. "A king may become a servant." Vachagan gets down to the task, learns to read and write, and learns a craft: weaving. The two are wed and become king and queen, living happily until Vachagan goes to investigate trouble in the eastern provinces of their kingdom and falls into the hands of a horrific three-headed dev. Col¢n's etched watercolors, shadowy and talismanic, ably support this tale of love and sapience and derring-do, which San Souci tells with perfect pacing and alluring imagery. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9)
Robert D. San Souci is the author of more than sixty-five picture books and story collections for young readers, including The Reluctant Dragon, illustrated by John Segal, a retelling of Kenneth Graham’s classic, as well as The Talking Eggs, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and The Faithful Friend, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, both Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor Books. His other accolades include two Aesop Awards from the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society, two Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medals, and numerous other awards. A lifelong resident of California, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.