The Squirrel Wife


A kind young man is rewarded with a bride who is kin to the wild in this beautiful, original fairy tale.

The green people in the woods are feared by all ? all except swineherd Jack, who dares to venture into the forest to answer a cry for help. Jack?s heroism unveils the true nature of the green people and earns him an idyllic life with a woman he loves. But can they survive the ignorance around them? Magical storytelling and luminous woodland ...

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A kind young man is rewarded with a bride who is kin to the wild in this beautiful, original fairy tale.

The green people in the woods are feared by all — all except swineherd Jack, who dares to venture into the forest to answer a cry for help. Jack’s heroism unveils the true nature of the green people and earns him an idyllic life with a woman he loves. But can they survive the ignorance around them? Magical storytelling and luminous woodland scenes easily transport readers to another time and place.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

With consummate skill, the late author of the British classic Tom's Midnight Gardenduplicates the pitch and vocabulary of a time-tested fairy tale in this original story. Rewarded by the "green people" with a wife who knows the forest as intimately as the squirrel she really is, Jack finds happiness. But when his cruel brother arouses the suspicions of the villagers, Jack and the squirrel wife must shield each other. Anderson's (Dragonology) delicately stippled colored pencil illustrations, while distinctly contemporary in their palette and angularity, have something of the feeling of medieval portraits. Dressed in jerkins and breeches, the characters appear full-face or else at right angles to the viewer, proceeding stiffly across the page, fingers outspread. The massive trees of the forest that lie at the literal and figurative heart of the story materialize as if out of a mist. Pearce's tale unfurls at a leisurely pace, allowing readers to relish its moments of magic: "She could lay her hand upon a tree and tell its age exactly, even before Jack had cut it down and counted its year rings." Blending enchantment, quiet heroism and a good comeuppance, this hypnotic tale is memorable also for the currents of loss that enable its happy ending. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
Jack, a poor pig herder, lives with his elder brother at the edge of the forest. His brother warns Jack to never go deep into the forest because of the green people. One evening during a storm, Jack hears someone calling from the forest. Near a fallen tree, Jack discovers one of the green people trapped. Jack frees the injured man and returns him to the green people. For Jack's kindness, the lord of the green people gives a gold ring to Jack and tells him that he must give it to a female baby squirrel. Jack follows these instructions; in the autumn Jack discovers a strange, small woman with a gold bracelet. She is Jack's squirrel wife. They live well in the deep forest until Jack's brother accuses Jack of stealing. The townspeople imprison Jack but the squirrel wife rescues Jack from prison. They return to the green people where Jack must choose to have his wife or the squirrel that she has become. Jack chooses wisely and he and his wife live happily outside the forest. This beautiful original folk story has mystical, soft-colored pencil-and-ink drawings. They complement well the story's setting. This story would appeal to a wide range of elementary school readers with enough suspense and romance to appeal to boys and girls. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4
Pearce's original fairy tale, first published in 1971, has been reissued with new illustrations. The descriptive narrative tells how Jack, the younger of two brothers, goes into the forest against his brother's wishes to investigate a nocturnal cry for help. He saves one of the fabled "green people" and is rewarded with a gold ring that he must place upon the paw of a newborn female squirrel. The creature, when full grown, takes on a human form and becomes Jack's wife. When his jealous brother, learning that he is happily married and prospering, reports him as a thief and has him jailed, Jack's squirrel wife finds a way to set him free and ensure their continued happiness. Using colored pencil, acrylic ink, and watercolor, Anderson has painstakingly created enchanted sylvan and town settings that carry out the fairy-tale theme of the story. Into each scene he has placed primitive-style people and tiny woodland animals. The illustrations have a textured, layered look and vary in size, some covering a full page or spread, while others are smaller, and encircled by twining, flowering vines. Children who like stories about wee folk and magic will enjoy this classic British tale.
—Susan SchepsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A folkloric tale of the deep woods, written years ago for a radio broadcast and outfitted here with elaborate, richly textured illustrations. In exchange for venturing into the forest on a stormy night to rescue one of the magical green folk who dwell there, young pig-keeper Jack receives a gold ring that transforms a squirrel into a loving, woods-wise wife. Though she sacrifices her double nature after temporarily turning back into a squirrel to rescue him when his evil brother has him imprisoned, the two go on to a long, happy life together. Adding an air of mystery to his pictures by lighting them with a green glow, Anderson gives his figures otherworldly expressions, and poses them in formal groups among thick groves of tall, stately trees. Atmospheric in art and writing both, Pearce's posthumous offering is equally suited to reading alone or aloud. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763635510
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/9/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.98 (w) x 10.14 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Philippa Pearce is the much-honored British author of TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN, a Carnegie Medal winner; THE BATTLE OF BUBBLE AND SQUEAK, a Whitbread Award winner; and THE LITTLE GENTLEMEN. She passed away in December 2006.

Wayne Anderson’s illustrations grace numerous books, including the NEW YORK TIMES best-selling DRAGONOLOGY. He lives in Leicestershire, England.

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