The Pied Piper of Hamelin

( 1 )

Overview

The classic tale takes on modern themes in a retelling by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, aided by Emma Chichester Clark's bright illustrations.

In the town of Hamelin, the rich folk live high off the hog, while the poor and sick must scavenge in the trash that's left behind. And that trash keeps building up and up until a horde of rats overruns the town. In this lively retelling, a spunky street kid narrates the age-old tale of a piper who offers to rid a town of its rats ...

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Overview

The classic tale takes on modern themes in a retelling by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, aided by Emma Chichester Clark's bright illustrations.

In the town of Hamelin, the rich folk live high off the hog, while the poor and sick must scavenge in the trash that's left behind. And that trash keeps building up and up until a horde of rats overruns the town. In this lively retelling, a spunky street kid narrates the age-old tale of a piper who offers to rid a town of its rats for a single gold coin, then lures away the town's children when the greedy mayor reneges on the deal. With a nod to contemporary social and environmental themes, former British Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark team up to charm readers with a compelling--and ultimately hopeful--new take on a timeless story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The team behind 2008’s Hansel and Gretel gives this dark fairy tale a Dickensian spin and a blatant social agenda, with a socially marginal but insightful boy narrator; a corrupt, fetid setting (the rats must be literally beaten off with sticks); and a scathing indictment of the ruling class (“the rich and the greedy lived like kings and queens behind the walls and gates of their grand houses”). By the time the Piper arrives, readers will be itching for Hamelin to get its comeuppance, thanks to Clark’s moody acrylic and pencil illustrations and her portrayal of the Piper as a dashing, slyly menacing antihero. Unfortunately, Morpurgo has bigger fish to fry. Instead of the children being lost forever inside the mountain, they’re held in custody by the Piper until Hamelin cleans up its dumps, creates fair housing, builds a school and a playground, and puts in place a social safety net and health care reform (“No beggars walked the streets anymore, and the sick and old were lovingly cared for”). It’s enough to make even deep-seated blue staters blanch. Ages 5–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
An evocative and effective retelling of an old classic.
—Kirkus Reviews

True to the spirit of the original tale, this attractive retelling adds some new twists and a happy ending without denying the dark, universal drama.
—Booklist

From the Publisher
An evocative and effective retelling of an old classic.
—Kirkus Reviews

True to the spirit of the original tale, this attractive retelling adds some new twists and a happy ending without denying the dark, universal drama.
—Booklist

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The little lame boy who couldn't keep up with the Pied Piper and the children as they entered the cave into the mountain becomes the narrator for this version of the story as well as the Pied Piper's messenger. Morpurgo expands on the tale and presents an even stronger message for today's readers. His carefully chosen words emphasize the importance of keeping one's word without sacrificing the story. The townsfolk have a year and a day to make Hamelin a "fit place for children"—and that means all the children, rich and poor. If they do so, the children will be returned. Clark extends the story through the full-color illustrations. They show the tall, thin, mysterious man with the flute around his neck dressed in an eye-catching, multi-patterned costume. The scenes show the medieval town with its bridge across the river. Wonderfully expressive characters depict the action of the story. And, of course, there are the rats that run rampant through the town and over the pages. Morpurgo proves that with rich storytelling the best tales never grow old. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—A greatly expanded version of the old story, told by a lame boy. The tension between rich and poor is the immediate premise. "The streets and alleyways in Hamelin Town were full of beggars and children like us…. Meanwhile the rich and greedy lived like kings and queens …." Some of the wordy explanations seem beyond the view of the narrator, and the slow beginning gives way to an extended description of the horrific situation as the rats invade the dirty streets, government offices, and homes of the rich. Clark's energetic pen and acrylic scenes, though warm in color and incorporating folk-art motifs, build the horror of the rodents piling up by the thousands and chasing people through town. The arrival of the tall, calm stranger in colorful harlequin suit and wide-brimmed hat is a welcome relief to the gruesome scenario. The story goes on to the drowning of the rats, the greedy mayor's refusal to pay the piper, and the departure of the town's children. Morpurgo then gives the narrator a special role as the piper's emissary. He delivers the extended moral of the story to the citizens of Hamelin, who must spend a year redistributing the wealth and cleaning up the garbage in the streets, after which the children return. The book might provide good discussion material, and the nightmarish rat invasion would satisfy readers yearning for something really creepy.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews

The rich may ignore the poor, but the Piper must be paid.

A tall orphan with a crutch narrates this retelling of the familiar tale. In his village, Hamelin, "the rich and the greedy [live] like kings and queens," while the needy scrounge for food in the rat-ridden streets. The boy and his best friend Emma fight back against the vermin. One day, the mayor sees the duo in action and appoints them his personal "rat boy and rat girl." Unfortunately, they can do little to keep the rats away from wealthy homes. Just when things seem most hopeless, a meeting of the town council is crashed by an arresting figure dressed in an outrageous costume: The Pied Piper. Playing his beautiful silver flute, he leads the rats away, but, when the mayor reneges on his promise to pay, the Piper extracts revenge by luring the children away, too. The slow-moving narrator is left behind, and it falls to him to bring the Piper and the children back. It is a nuanced and substantial retelling of the well-known morality tale; young readers can identify with the resourceful narrator, and adults may find relevance, given current economic woes. Chichester Clark's pencil-and-acrylic illustrations are bright and beautifully composed; the teeming rats radiate menace without being actively scary.

An evocative and effective retelling of an old classic. (Picture book. 6-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763648244
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 1,457,916
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Morpurgo has written more than eighty books and received numerous prestigious awards. His books include WAR HORSE, PRIVATE PEACEFUL, and retellings of HANSEL AND GRETEL, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, as well as BEOWULFand SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, both illustrated by Michael Foreman. Michael Morpurgo lives in Devon, England.

Emma Chichester Clark has written and illustrated many acclaimed books for young readers, including GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, which she retold and illustrated, and HANSEL AND GRETEL, retold by Michael Morpurgo. Emma Chichester Clark lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2014

    wonderful

    wonderful

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