As in his interpretation of John Coltrane in Giant Steps, Raschka now turns Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf into poetry and pictures. The illustrations present the story as a theatrical performance (action unfolds alternately in freestanding illustrations and on an elaborate stage), but without an orchestra. As Peter cavorts, calmly but boldly opening himself to the climactic encounter with the wolf, Raschka conveys the mounting suspense in lilting words, swerving zigzags and curves. Carefree Peter is supported by an animal chorus in sound poetry, including a blue bird who speaks in stutters and rhyme, and of course the predator, who swallows the duck with a panting, "Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme... GULP!" Raschka's pictures-of characters venturing close to the wolf's bear-trap jaws, of the cat's enormous face looming over a tiny Peter-gain extra energy from geometrically shaped color blocks on the same spreads; each character is assigned a certain spectrum-e.g., red for the wolf-like the solo instruments in Prokofiev. His book best rewards patient readers capable of linking the continuous dialogue and amped-up visuals in the action spreads with scenes viewed within a complex, 3D cut-paper theater. One reading will not be enough to appreciate the artist's keen attention to detail. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since its debut in the '30s, Prokofiev's now-classic orchestral fairy tale of a boy who captures a wolf with the aid of some animal friends has been hugely popular. Here, with a nod to its musical origins (an introductory illustration showing each of the characters with his corresponding instrument), Lemieux ( A Gift from St. Francis ; Voices on the Wind ) delivers a straightforward, tightly written version of the tale. She takes some liberties--the hunters cart the wolf off to the zoo in the end, for example, instead of slitting him open to free the duck he's consumed--and purists may lament the separation of the story from its musical score, but children will still thrill to the bravery of Peter, who ignores his grandfather's warnings and catches a wolf by the tail. Dark, highly stylized oil paintings resound with suitably Russian elements--Grandfather looks like Tolstoy, the hunters are dressed as Cossacks--and create a fittingly atmospheric backdrop to this beloved story. All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
All the characters in the symphonic fairy tale are brought to life in their forest setting, along with Peter's house and the pond in the meadow. Peter's friend the bird banters with the duck, closely tracked by the cat. Grandfather warns Peter not to leave the garden gate open because of the dangerous wolf, but Peter is not afraid. When the hungry wolf actually turns up and gobbles the duck, Peter catches him with the aid of the bird. He will not let the hunters shoot the trussed-up wolf, so they all take him to the zoo instead. Gukova's double-page, relatively naturalistic, richly textured opaque paintings tell the tale episode by episode, adding details that give body to the action. Peter is a buoyant redhead, but the wolf is perhaps the real star. We see the transformation from an open-mouthed beast with scores of sharp teeth, to a horrified victim, to a smiling wolf in Peter's wheelbarrow. The bumbling hunters add comic relief. 1999, North-South Books, Ages 5 to 8, $15.95 and $15.88. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzChildren's Literature
Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
The classic story is set in the great northern woods. Peter lives with his grandfather in a fortress to protect them from the dangers of the woods, specifically the wolf. One morning, Peter plays with the cat, the duck and the bird in the meadow outside the gate. As soon as Peter goes back inside, the wolf appears and goes after the duck. Peter sees it all from the window, and must go back outside and help his friends. They manage to tie up the wolf, just as the hunters come to shoot it. Peter suggests that they take him to the zoo, and that is what they do, via wheelbarrow.
K-Gr 2-Wiencirz attempts to flesh out the basic story by adding dialogue and description. Unfortunately, rather than adding to the overall impact of the story, this effort only seems to make it more wordy. The clipped sentences sound slightly stilted: "One morning Peter woke up early. He went out into the garden and looked around. Where was his friend the little bird? Peter gave a soft whistle." Compare that passage to Patricia Crampton's Peter and the Wolf (Picture Book Studio, 1987; o.p.): "Only Peter's friend the bird, perched at the top of a big tree, sang the song of the peaceful meadow and the quiet, blue pond." Gukova's illustrations, reminiscent of Eastern European folk art, are more successful than the text. The animals, in particular, are nicely portrayed and seem to have distinct personalities as they interact. The design is basic-a single block of text placed on a double-page painting. Librarians needing a version of this story would be better served by Selina Hastings's Peter and the Wolf (Holt, 1995) or Patricia Crampton's book.-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Without musical notation, how does one convey the thematic phrases and unique rhythms associated with each character created by Sergei Prokofiev in his classic introduction to the instruments of the orchestra? The ever-experimental, sound-sensitive Raschka employs color, shape, line, and idiosyncratic language to distinguish each cast member in his utterly beguiling production. Characters appear one after the other on sequential versos to offer opening monologues. Peter enters on a strip of chartreuse, his large, oval face topped by a Russian cap, his lyrical style inspired by e. e. cummings: "See I/Spin around and twirl around and jump around/In this perfect, most perfect/Place I've been." The bluebird twitters a jazzy scat on a path of cheerful yellow. The menacing wolf-all jagged lines and primal grunts against a field of red-gobbles the oblivious duck, as has been destined. Rectos feature a stage framed in brown columns and constructed from four sheets of painted paper that have been glued together; the resulting shadows produce a convincing depth. The action occurs as the watercolor figures, outlined with Raschka's signature thick strokes, interpret their roles. The three hunters enter in a martial bluster, but ultimately the entire crew proceeds to the zoo. Gentle readers and purists alike will appreciate Raschka's solution to the duck's fate; he allows readers to choose either Prokofiev's finale (so labeled) or his one-page epilogue in which a veterinarian performs "emergency surgery." Make room for this inventive, spirited interpretation. A bravura performance from a musical maestro.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Language chosen for its sound at least as much as for its meaning lends an improvisatory air to this rendition of Prokofiev's musical tale, and theatrical illustrations definitely kick things up an additional notch. Having introduced themselves, the bird and the duck fall into an argument—"And the bird answers back: D-ducky d-dacky d-docky d-deeky. / And the duck answers back: Waieo, waieo, waieo, waieo"—before the cat and the wolf enter, Peter lassos the wolf and the hunters ("We are the men, / We are the men, / We are the men who hunt…") arrive to carry the captive off in triumph. For the art, Raschka alternates stylized pictures of the characters drawn in thick crayon and daubs of color with photos of elaborately decorated, ingeniously designed stage sets constructed from layers of cut and painted paper. He does make changes to the original's cast and plot in order to make the happy ending more explicit, but he's far from the first to do that. Among the plethora of Peters, his stands out for its seamless, jazzy match of verbal and visual exuberance. (Picture book. 6-8)