The Sugar Child by Monique de Varennes, Leonid Gore |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Sugar Child

The Sugar Child

by Monique de Varennes, Leonid Gore
     
 
Matine was not exactly like other children. Her skin was cool and a bit hard, like a fine sugar crust, and so thin you could nearly see through it. She was made of a kind of fairy candy...

Matine is different from every other child in the world -- she is made from marzipan! Sweet as sugar, fragile as a flower, she must never cry...or walk in the rain...or play under

Overview

Matine was not exactly like other children. Her skin was cool and a bit hard, like a fine sugar crust, and so thin you could nearly see through it. She was made of a kind of fairy candy...

Matine is different from every other child in the world -- she is made from marzipan! Sweet as sugar, fragile as a flower, she must never cry...or walk in the rain...or play under the hot sun, for she could melt away. And when Matine's best friend falls ill, her parents decide not to tell her, for fear that her tears might make her melt away forever.

How the power of love saves both Matine and her friend makes for an original fairy tale filled with wonder and poignancy in the spirit of classics like Pinocchio and The Velveteen Rabbit.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
This old-fashioned story brims with familiar fairytale images. In an idyllic snowy village, a sweet couple longs to have a child, a sick boy languishes away and a girl made of marzipan, thanks to a baker's love, turns into a real child. De Varennes's story is economically told. Jacques the Baker fashions a beautiful child out of marzipan for his wife at Christmas and, in the morning, the child magically wakes up as if she were alive. The thrilled parents name her Matine ("the French word for morning, for that was when she had come into their lives"). Gore's (Sleeping Boy) lovely autumn-toned acrylic and pastel illustrations feature an ebony-haired child in a red dress who appears to glisten with sugar. Matine is so fragile that her parents fear her tears will melt her away, so they lie to her about her friend Jean-Paul's illness. The artist fills the illustrations with storybook peasant faces; even the snow is tinged with a sad, yellowed glow. When Matine finds Jean-Paul on his deathbed, her tears miraculously heal her friend, and she discovers that beneath "the brittle layer of her marzipan skin was not more sugar, but the warm flesh of a real child." This tale may appeal to youngsters who like happy endings, but may be too sweet for some. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Jacques, the baker and his wife, Therese, do many kind things for the children of their Canadian village. They often create sugar treats that resemble animals, fruit, or dolls and give them away to the delight of their young friends. They long to have a child of their own and one evening Jacques takes some special care and creates a sugar child that is so beautiful that he is surprised at his artistic talent. Upon awakening, Therese finds that the doll is actually a real child. They name her Matine and enjoy her clever and joyful ways. Even though they try to protect her at first, they realize that she longs to do the things that other children do. Of all the children, Jean-Paul becomes her special friend. When Jean-Paul becomes ill, everyone tries to protect Matine from the sadness of it all as tears will melt her away. The ending is quite special and gives a sense of the power of friendship and caring. This could be used in a series on similar books where lonely adults create children such as Pinocchio and The Gingerbread Man. A lesson in creating marzipan figures could also accompany the story. 2004, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Ages 4 to 12.
—Barbara Youngblood
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In a small Quebec town, a young girl formed from marzipan by a childless baker magically comes to life. Matine's parents and the town's children love her and work hard to protect her fragile, sugary skin from dissolving in the rain. Matine befriends Jean-Paul, a boy as fragile as she is. When he becomes seriously ill, she sheds tears for the very first time. These tears wash away her brittle skin and seem to revive Jean-Paul. In the end, Matine joyfully realizes she is a "real" child at last. While the descriptions of the girl's transformation and Jean-Paul's recovery are not completely clear, the text is fluid and lyrical. Gore's full-page, acrylic-and-pastel art gives the tale the soft, delicate frame it requires. Matine and the other marzipan creations seem to shimmer quietly on the page and draw the eye. While this story may be too sweet and sentimental for some children, others will get swept away by the gentle magic in this comfortingly familiar tale.-Rachel G. Payne, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lovely original tale as told to the author by her mother holds echoes of traditional stories of transformation. A husband-and-wife team of bakers enjoy their work in a mountain town in Canada-their only sorrow is their childlessness. One night, the husband makes a little girl out of sweet almond paste, and goes to bed. In the morning, they find a real child in the kitchen, with translucent sugar skin, and they call her Matine, for "morning." Matine has a natural sweetness, and the other children protect her from rain and sun so she won't melt. She finds a special friend in Jean-Paul, whose weak lungs do not permit him to run about in bad weather either. When he stops coming to school, her parents are afraid to tell Matine that Jean-Paul is ill and she awaits word longingly. When she finally learns the truth, she rushes to his side and her tears not only melt her hard sugar crust, but heal Jean-Paul besides. Gore's pastel and acrylic paintings hold all the colors of marzipan and the translucence of sugar candy-a perfect foil for the tale's dulcet tenderness. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689852442
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.62(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Monique de Varennes received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and enjoys writing for both children and adults. One of her short stories was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2003. Ms. de Varennes has two children and lives with her husband in Los Angeles. Her favorite flavor of candy is caramel.

Leonid Gore moved to the U.S. from his native Russia in 1991. He has illustrated The Sugar Child, The Malachite Palace, Sleeping Boy, Who Was Born This Special Day?, The Secret of the Great Houdini, The Princess Mouse, and, most recently, Saints Among the Animals for Atheneum. He is also the author and illustrator of Danny's First Snow. Mr. Gore lives with his wife and daughter in Oakland, New Jersey, where monarchs are occasionally sighted.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >