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The Black Falcon: A Tale from the Decameron

The Black Falcon: A Tale from the Decameron

by William Wise, Giovanni Boccaccio, Gilliam Barlow (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- Wise transforms a story from the Decameron into a stately fable about the nature of true love. Federigo, a poor nobleman, is hopelessly in love with the wife of Lord Orsini. His circumstances prevent his suit even upon the lord's death, and he retreats behind a cold facade, emerging only to share his most valued possession, a hunting hawk, with Pietro, the son of his beloved. When Pietro falls ill, his one wish is to possess the falcon, and his mother visits Federigo. The poor knight kills the falcon so that he might give her a meal worthy of her position, and both are therefore stunned when she makes her request after the meal. Pietro recovers, despite this disappointment, and eventually Lady Elena and Federigo are married, celebrating the sacrifice that brought them together each year with a meal that duplicates it. Wise has made changes in tone and emphasis from Boccaccio's version. The original tale is a cautionary one about profligacy (Federigo is poor because he has spent all in pursuit of the lady), laced with tragic irony (Pietro dies, with Boccaccio hinting that the reason is disappointment.) Wise chooses instead to make both Federigo and Lady Elena figures of courtly love. The story is thus moved from its original earthy realism to the realm of fable. In tone and structure it works well there, although the survival of Pietro does undermine the irony of the sacrifice of the falcon. Wise is ably abetted by Barlow's watercolors, done in a palette rich in earth tones with images moving in frescoes across the pages, in normal poses, bordered with designs that mirror or contrast the interior illustrations. Barlow thus preserves in her illustration the feel of Wise's formal distanced retelling, enhancing it with carefully selected period detail. While Wise's story of the recognition of true love is not perhaps true to all the facets of the original on which it is based, it succeeds on its own merits as a satisfying picture book tale. --Christine Behrmann, New York Public Library

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)
Age Range:
5 - 11 Years

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