Duffy and the Devil

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Overview

Duffy and the Devil was a popular play in Cornwall in the nineteenth century, performed at the Christmas season by groups of young people who went from house to house. The Zemachs have interpreted the folk tale which the play dramatized, recognizable as a version of the widespread Rumpelstiltskin story. Its main themes are familiar, but the character and details of this picture book are entirely Cornish, as robust and distinctive as the higgledy-piggledy, cliff-hanging villages ...

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Overview

Duffy and the Devil was a popular play in Cornwall in the nineteenth century, performed at the Christmas season by groups of young people who went from house to house. The Zemachs have interpreted the folk tale which the play dramatized, recognizable as a version of the widespread Rumpelstiltskin story. Its main themes are familiar, but the character and details of this picture book are entirely Cornish, as robust and distinctive as the higgledy-piggledy, cliff-hanging villages that dot England's southwestern coast from Penzance to Land's End.

The language spoken by the Christmas players was a rich mixture of local English dialect and Old Cornish (similar to Welsh and Gaelic), and something of this flavor is preserved in Harve Zemach's retelling. Margot Zemach's pen-and-wash illustrations combine a refined sense of comedy with telling observation of character, felicitous drawing with decorative richness, to a degree that surpasses her own past accomplishments.

 

Duffy and the Devil is a 1973 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and Outstanding Book of the Year, a 1974 National Book Award Finalist for Children's Books, and the winner of the 1974 Caldecott Medal.

The spinning and knitting the devil agrees to do for her win Duffy the Squire's name and a carefree life until it comes time for her to guess the devil's name.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"'The devil can make Squire Lovel's stockings for all I care,' cries Duffy the servant girl in this comical Cornish version of Rumpelstiltskin-and that of course is just what he does, with the well-known proviso that 'at the end of three years I'll take you away-unless you can tell me my name.'"-Pointer, Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``The Zemachs' re-creation of a 19th century Cornish entertainment retains all the robust, ribald qualities of the original, a plot based on Rumpelstiltskin,'' noted PW. ``How Duffy marries her boss and outwits a demon is at the heart of this gutsy tale.'' (5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374318871
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/28/1973
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 10.94 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    Duffy and the Devil- Harve and Margot Zemach

    Making promises you can't keep is just what Duffy did with Squire Lovel. She said ' I do all the work, I spin like a saint, I knit like and angel'. So the Squire took her back with him to help out his housemaid. Only problem is Duffy didn't know how do spin or knit. What is she to do. Well the devil pops in and said that he would do all the work for her if after 3 years she goes with him. The only way that she would be able to get out of the deal is if she guesses his name. Will Duffy be able to trust the Devil, or will she have to go with him for ever? Will the Squire find out that she can't do either? Read and you will find out. This book reminds me alot of rumpelstilkian. I enjoy classic tales alot and think that they are good fun reads to help teach morals. Harve has retold this story from a Cornish tale, while his wife illustrated the book. Zemach, Harve and Margot. DUFFY AND THE DEVIL. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1973.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    Duffy and the Devil

    This story was delightful. I loved the pictures. This book was absolutely a Caldecott Winner. The pictures were very fun and colorful. The portrayal of the characters was marvelous. The characters in this book were similar to those in Rumplestiltskin. Duffy is a servant girl who is being thrown out on the streets because the lady of the house says that she is lazy. The devil helps her to sew and make clothes so that she can find a home. She is taken in by Squire Lovel. The devil helps her at no charge, but says that in three years if she does not know her name that he will take her away. Duffy impresses the Squire enough that he decides to marry her. The Squire learns the name of the devil and saves Duffy. The pictures that go with this story enhance it very well. The colors are vibrant and bold. The characters are shown in comical scenes. The characters seem more realistic because they are drawn as large people. They are not the typical ¿Skinny Minnie¿ characters that everyone knows do not exist. They are made to be portrayed as real people. I would recommend this book to all of my colleagues as a read aloud story. Margot had always loved to draw amusing pictures. She knew she wanted to either draw cartoons or illustrate children¿s books. Lucky for us she chose to illustrate. She would illustrate books that her husband Harve wrote. They began working together in 1959. Together they completed thirteen books. Zemach, Harve & Margot. Duffy And The Devil. New York. Farrar~Straus~Giroux, 1973. Reading Level 4.9

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2006

    duffy and the devil

    Duffy and the Devil is about Duffy who becomes a knitter for a famous squire. Little did the squire know that Duffy could not knit. Duffy then asks the devil to help her. He says that he will help her, but in three years if Duffy does not guess his name then he will take her away. I really enjoyed this book because it taught the reader a lesson at the end. I was not very crazy about the illustrations because they were not eye-catching for me. Harve and Margot Zemach are married to each other. Margot does the illustrations while Harve writes. They have collaborated on thirteen books and in 1974 won the Caldecott for Duffy and the Devil. Zemach, Harve and Margot. Duffy and the Devil. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Girouz. 1973.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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