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The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries

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In the south of France there is a tiny town called Saintes Maries de la Mer. Inside the town church is a wooden boat . . . with two wooden ladies—one in a rose dress and one in blue. Both are called Marie.

Traveling in their modest wooden boat, the mysterious two Saint Maries are said to have performed forty miracles during the 19th century. But who were these two saints? Inspired by this question, Rosemary Wells crafts a vivid portrayal of the saints as sixteen-year-old friends...

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Overview

In the south of France there is a tiny town called Saintes Maries de la Mer. Inside the town church is a wooden boat . . . with two wooden ladies—one in a rose dress and one in blue. Both are called Marie.

Traveling in their modest wooden boat, the mysterious two Saint Maries are said to have performed forty miracles during the 19th century. But who were these two saints? Inspired by this question, Rosemary Wells crafts a vivid portrayal of the saints as sixteen-year-old friends drifting through the skies in their boat, meeting with God himself, and swooping down to Earth to perform loving good deeds. Award-winning illustrator Petra Mathers’ whimsical illustrations top off this enchantingly unique picture book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by a real-life mystery, Wells (the McDuff books) crafts a fanciful imagining of the short earthly lives, and longer Heavenly ones, of two French girls legendary for the miracles they performed for their kin and townsfolk. In Biblical times, in the area now known as southern France, two best girlfriends, both named Marie, were inseparable. Day in and day out, they fished, crabbed and went clam digging off the coast of their small town. But when a sudden storm turns the tide on a clam-digging expedition, the two 16-year-olds perish in the wild sea. They arrive in Heaven dripping wet and bargain with a stern God for a second chance at life on Earth. Though God makes no promises, the girls find themselves " in between the two worlds/ entre les deux mondes" able to eventually row their hovering boat back home, where they spend years appearing to help people in need-curing a sick baby, saving a child trapped in a well. Mathers (Strange Mr. Satie) captures a mood of eerie whimsy in her playfully elegant gouache artwork with evocative scenery and stylish compositions. Her images of girls who just wanna have fun-and do good deeds for others-as they sail the clouds in a humble, ethereal vessel, match this intriguing and inspirational story. An author's note offers more detail on the real Maries and Wells's fascination with them. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Inspired by the tales of the miracles performed by two young girls from the town of Saintes-Maries-de la Mer, France, years ago, Wells has imagined one of the girls telling us their story. Both girls, named Marie, are daughters of fishermen. They go rowing together, fishing and crabbing, always feeling safe. One day, gathering clams, they are caught too far out by a storm and tossed up to heaven. The other Marie begs a stern God for another chance at life. When he does not answer immediately, the girls row quickly away through the clouds, taking their chance to do good deeds. Spotting emergencies in their town below, they save many from death and disaster. Each "miracle" is painted by the local artists in the pictures that can be seen in the church today. When all they knew have arrived in heaven, the girls stop. Were they saints, wonders Marie? No, "just two best friends in a boat who loved all the people in our town." Mathers has visualized the sweet, innocent tale in watercolors that sometimes fill the double pages but more often describe the many events in vignettes. Homey details of town life, and the simple, gentle folk abound. The final page shows almost a score of the miracles as painted and displayed in the church. In a note, Wells explains the background and her relation to the story. 2006, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Two 16-year-old best friends, both named Marie, enjoy carefree lives in their southern French town, until the day they venture out too far into the clam flats where the fast-moving tide quickly overtakes them. The waves toss them and their boat deep into the ocean and then up to heaven. There, God gives them a second chance by allowing them to return to the town they love and help its inhabitants. They row their boat through the clouds and spend the next 60 years saving children from fever, adults from dog attacks, horses in danger, and anyone else who is in dire straits. This fact-based tale is prefaced with an author's note describing the real two Maries, which adds depth to the story. The main characters are not portrayed as mystical beings but as normal girls who make a foolish mistake but refuse to let that be the end of what they can do for the people they love. The conversational and matter-of-fact first-person narrative is peppered with French words and phrases. Mathers's folk-art-style illustrations use simple lines and bold colors to create detailed pictures that effectively capture the action and emotions of the story. A lovely addition to any collection.-Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wells spins out an original tale loosely based on local legends from a small town in southern France. Caught by a sudden tide, two young friends, both named "Marie," ascend to heaven, where one convinces God to allow them to return to Earth for a time to care for neighbors and loved ones. Rowing upon clouds in their small boat, the two cure one sick child, help rescue another from a well, calm a team of horses and other small good deeds-all of which are actually recorded in paintings in the town's church. Bright smiles on their delicately drawn features, the two Maries float through rustic scenes of pink flamingoes and peach trees in blossom, of rainbows and fields of lavender-all of which is based on Mathers's visit to the area. Narrated in a distinct, cheery voice by one Marie, this is a much simplified version of the traditional story (for one thing, there are three Maries associated with the locale), but its sweetness will draw young readers, particularly fans of Tomie dePaola's retold saints' legends. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670059607
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/6/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.86 (w) x 11.22 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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