Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With her latest story, Helldorfer ( The Mapmaker's Daughter ) establishes herself at the forefront of what seems to be a growing breed of fairy tales featuring strong, independent young women. The heroine here is a taciturn girl who works for her loutish brothers--who dub her ``Cabbage'' for her plain face--and retreats into her artwork. One night, a magician gives her a wonder-working paintbrush; now, everything Cabbage paints becomes real. Her demanding siblings set her to work rendering finery for themselves, but the girl escapes to ply her trade (with her own brush, not the magic one) in the king's city. She falls in love with the prince and, in a classic case of low self-esteem, uses her magic brush to paint a new face for herself on the mirror, that of an elegant lady. She has misjudged her prince, however; the loyal lad rejects the superficially lovely replacement, telling her that he desires only Cabbage Rose, ``for the world is plain without her.'' Helldorfer's fluid prose is buoyed by Downing's lush watercolors, a series of luminous pages that chronicle Cabbage's blossoming life and talent. The clear-cut message here--the importance of valuing one's true worth--is especially timely in today's image-conscious society. Though certainly of value to boys (kudos to the prince for not judging a book by its cover), this is a particularly empowering book for girls. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Jim Jeske
Cabbage, a plain serving girl at her brothers' inn, is tremendously skilled at painting. When a visiting magician rewards her with a magic brush that makes real whatever it paints, Cabbage is forced by her greedy brothers to paint pictures of diamonds, pearls, and all manner of riches until she faints from exhaustion. Fleeing the selfish pair, she makes her way to a town market, where she hides the magic brush and lives off her natural skill. Soon the local prince commissions her to paint, and the two fall in love. On her last day at the palace, Cabbage Rose (affectionately renamed by the prince for her blushing face) succumbs to temptation and paints a glamorous self-portrait upon a mirror with the magic brush. But she finds the prince suddenly cold and distant, prompting the girl to break her magic brush and undo the spell. Again she is plain, though still talented, and the prince's affection is hers. Helldorfer's Cabbage Rose is a fresh heroine and a plucky survivor, but it is unclear whether she breaks the magic brush to declare her integrity and self-respect or to please the prince. Nor is there a traditional happily-ever-after ending. Downing's watercolors are rich and sunny, with fascinating depictions of sixteenth-century costume, yet her figures often appear stiff and devoid of expression, as though frozen. Despite some drawbacks, there's an originality here that young listeners will enjoy.

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Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st American ed
Product dimensions:
8.46(w) x 10.79(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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