The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Overview

Hamelin town has a plague of rats, and if something isn't done soon, everyone will starve. The people vow to give up everything to rid the town of the rats. And so the help of the Pied Piper is enlisted to dispose of the nasty pests. He plays a sweet tune and the rats, dancing, follow the music to their end. But when the townsfolk refuse to pay the Piper, he takes up his flute and plays an even sweeter tune. This time, it's the town's children who follow. In this splendid retelling of one of the most enduring ...

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Overview

Hamelin town has a plague of rats, and if something isn't done soon, everyone will starve. The people vow to give up everything to rid the town of the rats. And so the help of the Pied Piper is enlisted to dispose of the nasty pests. He plays a sweet tune and the rats, dancing, follow the music to their end. But when the townsfolk refuse to pay the Piper, he takes up his flute and plays an even sweeter tune. This time, it's the town's children who follow. In this splendid retelling of one of the most enduring folktales to be passed down through the centuries, Drahos Zak's evocative and intricately detailed illustrative style complements Robert Holden's sensitive and poetic text. Their collaboration brings new dimensions to this universally human story.

The Pied Piper pipes the village free of rats, and when the villagers refuse to pay him for the service he exacts a terrible revenge.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
One of the oldest folk tales around receives an unusual treatment in this book, which will appeal to those who crave horror in their reading. Rarely have I met such unpleasant-looking people, hardly better than the rats they yearn to drive out of their beloved Hamelin Town! Perhaps their looks match their inner selves, since, of course, they refuse to pay the Piper after he clears the detestable rodents out. This might be a good choice for boys who need to be coaxed into reading; but I would recommend caution for those tender of age or of heart since the illustrations-some colored, some sepia, some unfinished line drawings -could easily provoke nightmares.
School Library Journal
"The Pied Piper" is a mean-spirited cautionary tale at best. Told in Holden's uninspired rhymes, there's not much redemption in it. Think about it. The populace is so unpleasant that they are as objectionable as the rats that plague them. When the piper leads away the rodents, the people refuse to pay him. So he lures away their children. A nice bedtime story indeed! Zak's stunning illustrations, with some of the fascination of Hieronymus Bosch, are the reason older children might spend time with this book. Set among crowded, medieval cobblestone streets jammed with half-timbered buildings, people contend with rat competition as they pursue their tawdry existences. The pictures are drawn in a satirical cartoon manner with a distinctly European sophistication, and full-color pages are alternated with monochromatic sepia paintings. An interesting effect is created by the artist leaving occasional details of a drawing uncolored within a painting. Such fully developed, professional illustrations seem wasted on this ordinary telling. Sally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT
Kirkus Reviews
Developing the theme that there was no particular difference between the rats of Hamelin and its greedy, ungrateful populace, Zak draws both with beady eyes, snaggle teeth, and disagreeable sagging bodies. Placed against backgrounds filled with elaborate medieval architectural details, humans hop and scuttle among crowds of bustling rats, and leer at the slender, dignified piper; the artist depicts a burgher's climactic transformation into a huge, particularly hideous rat in an awkward, confusing way, and to no apparent purpose leaves random parts of scenes and figures as uncolored outlines. Providing ample proof that he's no Robert Browning, Holden not only subordinates meaning to meter, "The crowd grew angry, the crowd got mad,/they vowed they would give up all that they had" but can't hold to a consistent rhyme scheme either; furthermore, the plot is pared to the point of sketchiness. As an illustrator of the grotesque, Zak has great facility, but this rendition is not for readers unfamiliar with more traditional versions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395899182
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Pages: 28
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.62 (w) x 12.89 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Holden began collecting rare illustrated children's books as a young boy and went on to help establish a world-renowed collection of Australian children's books and illustrations. He is now a full-time writer and dealer in antiquarian children's books. He lives in Australia.
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