A familiar folktale gets a fantastical makeover from Batt (A Child's Book of Faeries) and Ceccoli (An Island in the Sun). After saving a woodland fairy from almost certain death, a woodcutter is given one wish. "It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen," writes Batt, while Ceccoli portrays the wish as a glowing spark of white light. "It seemed to dart and dance and sent a warm shiver through his body." The contented feeling ends, though, when each member of his family lobbies for a different heart's desire (his wife yearns for a child, his mother to regain her sight and his father for gold). Finally, he cleverly words a wish that satisfies everyone. Ceccoli intensifies the magical flavor of the swift and atmospheric storytelling in her softly shaded acrylics and oil pastels. Full-page illustrations enchant with their curious perspectives and peach and emerald-turquoise hues. In one uniquely angled and pleasing picture, readers look up, as if from a fairy's vantage point from the forest floor, past the woodcutter and his swinging ax and into the trees' leafy crowns, which bow overhead to frame the scene. In the next, readers take a hawk's eye-view as it circles over the faerie, who seeks cover under a log. Small, rectangular spot illustrations dress up the text pages, providing close-ups from facing pictures or windows into the woodcutter's imagination. A picturesque passage through a traditional tale. Ages 3-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Near the edge of a forest lived a woodcutter with his wife, father, and blind mother. "Life was hard. Old Man Poverty sat on their doorstep and snatched away everything good that came their way." One day while cutting wood, the man saw a hawk hunting for prey. Imagine his surprise to see a small faerie trying to hide under a log. After frightening off the hawk, the grateful faerie gave him the only thing he had—a glowing single wish. Thinking of all the things he had ever desired, the woodcutter realized that the wish should be shared with his family. Everyone had a different idea. The poor befuddled man did not want to favor one family member over another, so he fled to the woods to think. There he reaches a satisfying conclusion that included and pleased everyone. The enchanting story, originally from Ireland, has been fancifully illustrated with luminescent acrylics and pastels. The soft muted colors and unique perspective evoke the sense of magic and human generosity. 2003, Barefoot Books, Ages 5 to 10.
— Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-This fairy tale has been told throughout many cultures, but with its Irish twist, the magic in this version cannot be denied. Batt's elegant and rhythmic retelling relates the plight of a poor woodcutter and his wife who live in the forest with his elderly parents, with "Old Man Poverty" sitting on their doorstep. The couple have always wanted a child, but have never been able to conceive. Then their hand-to-mouth existence is turned upside down when the woodcutter saves the life of a faerie and is given a single wish as a reward. He must find a way to use it for his whole family's benefit. The text is intelligent and wise. Ceccoli's stylized artwork, done in acrylic and oil pastels, glows with warmth and the love of the small family, and the perspectives vary from page to page. A satisfying gem of a story, lyrically told and graced with luminous art.-Susan Marie Pitard, formerly at Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A pretty tale "found in many forms across many cultures" wrapped around a lovely message about wishes and words. A poor woodcutter who lives with his childless wife, his blind mother, and his silent, elderly father saves a faerie from the talons of a hawk. The faerie man, in gratitude, places in the woodcutter's hand a single, small, bright wish. The woodcutter carries it home, where his wife begs him to wish for a child, his mother implores him to wish for the return of her sight, and his father insists he needs to wish for gold to keep them warm and fed at last. The woodcutter walks "the day to its end" and finally finds just the right wish to bring happiness to everyone. Ceccoli's (An Island in the Sun, not reviewed) full-page paintings (in acrylics and oil pastels) face text pages decorated with head- and tail-pieces: the colors have the warm texture and deep color of pastels with the clear edges and three-dimensional solidity of acrylics. She elongates her characters and often paints them from two angles like Egyptian tomb figures, stretching spatial planes and architectural forms to give her images a rich, dreamlike quality. A different sort of wishing story, not three, but only one and what thinking hard outside expectations might bring. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)