Antonio performs each day in the piazza, juggling, walking a tightrope and playing his guitar, while the villagers laugh and throw coins. Sometimes he slips away to dance with his friend Daniela. But one morning, he finds that Daniela has been kidnapped by bandits who want the family fortune. Antonio sails off after them in a borrowed boat, receives lucky clues and without much trouble discovers the inn where the wicked bandits are drinking the night away. ``Saucy Daniela!'' says one. ``Good thing we locked the upstairs room!'' says another. Nimble Antonio throws his tightrope over a handy tree limb and makes the obligatory moonlight rescue. Following a few more convenient occurrences, Antonio and Daniela ride home in a hot-air balloon. This episodic plot packs in plenty of action against an Italian renaissance setting, delicately rendered in Lobel's detailed illustrations. Her Antonio and Daniela enliven the stagey drama, playing their roles with aplomb. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 This romantic Italian adventure of long ago fairly dances off its pages. Lobel communicates all the gaiety and theatricality of On Market Street (Greenwillow, 1981), but she tempers that flamboyance with a feeling for real people. She uses a painting style close to her pictures in A New Coat for Anna (Knopf, 1986), but these illustrations have the increased liveliness necessary for this fast-moving story. Both the characters and plot are improbable, but acceptable, nonetheless, much as characters in operetta or commedia dell'arte would be. Antonio, the hero, is a talented street performer whose special friend, Daniela, sometimes slips away from her wealthy life to dance with him in the piazza. When she is kidnapped for ransom, Antonio bravely goes after her, and after many unlikely adventures, returns her to her anxious parents, who reward him. If Donizetti had collaborated on a picture book, it might have turned out a little like this one. Anna Biagioni Hart, Sherwood Regional Library, Alexandria, Va.