Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ray's (Magical Tales from Many Lands; The Story of Christmas) folksy, gilt-laden artwork graces this somewhat formal abridgment of Wilde's tale about an enchanted statue. The Happy Prince, who had lived a happy life and died a happy man, is now immortalized high above the city as a golden and bejeweled statue. For the first time the royal sees the suffering, poverty and misery of the common people. Sharing his sympathetic view with a sparrow, the prince persuades the bird to postpone its migration and instead to deliver his gold leafing, his sapphire eyes and ruby belt to those who need them. Soon the sparrow dies of cold and the prince, now shabby, is removed from its pedestal and melted down. Though young readers may appreciate the lessons of selflessness and sacrifice here, the telling may seem to them stilted and even occasionally disjointed. Ray's characteristically rich palette and her delicate borders and backgrounds provide the visual magic that keeps this sentimental tale afloat. Ages 7-up. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Pat Simon
Jane Ray's beautiful illustrations bring to life the story of a statue known as the Happy Prince. He is a most elegant figure, bathed in fine gold from head to toe, seeing through sapphire eyes and carrying a ruby on his sword. His wealth brings him little comfort because he is, after all, only a statute and cannot help the people of the city who are so unhappy. But the Happy Prince meets the gentle, caring Swallow and together they make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate. With brilliant colors in the folk art tradition, Ray retells a story of friendship and compassion suitable for readers and listeners of all ages.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Ray has done a masterful job of retelling and illustrating one of Wilde's more accessible fairy tales. Using most of the author's words and all of his intent, she has omitted the more flowery and verbose prose and subplots. The result is a tightened tale that expresses compassion in a simple, heartfelt story of a statue and a little bird. Alternating full-and double-page illustrations with panels, Ray has put enormous detail into her paintings, and each one is burnished with a kind of verdigris gold. Readers will especially appreciate the pictures that depict the wonders of Egypt. Not piteous or sentimental, The Happy Prince is a balanced tale; in fact, Leo Lionni's modern classic, Tico and the Golden Wings (Knopf, 1975), seems to revisit its universal themes.-Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY