The Swan's Gift

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A magical reward follows a good deed-in this case, refraining from hunting-in this handsomely illustrated if somewhat formulaic picture book. Anton's wheat crop fails one season when no rain falls, and by winter, his family's food supply has dwindled to nothing. When he goes out hunting one cold night, he finds "a swan of such dazzling beauty that Anton could not look away." He decides that he cannot possibly kill this magnificent creature for food, no matter how desperate his family's plight, and the swan then circles above him, releasing drops of water that harden into diamonds. With her obvious, happy ending, Seabrooke (The Bridges of Summer) puts a sluggish spin on well-worn motifs; although her prose is graceful, the resolution is readily predictable. Ma's (illustrator of The Painted Fan) and Red Means Good Fortune) elegant, subtly-toned watercolor and pencil full-bleed art gives the book a classic, timeless look. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marla Frenzel
Anton, the farmer, and his wife and seven children are starving because of the springtime drought. Every day Anton sets out to hunt game, but finds none. One day he encounters a beautiful swan and thinks what a great meal it would make for his family. He has second thoughts, however, when he sees how magical the swan looks against the frozen lake. He concludes that his family could eat for one or two meals and then what? His killing of the magnificent swan will have been for nothing. The swan finally repays him with a spray of diamonds in the snow, which Anton then trades for food for his family. Illustrations in moonlit watercolors contribute to the magical, almost spiritual, quality of the book.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
A poor, hungry farmer chooses to give life to a magical swan, for its beauty more important than several days' food. His good deed does not go unrewarded and the diamonds the swan leaves in the snow save the family. The lake, swan, snow, and diamonds all give off a glow in the lovely watercolors by Wenhai Ma.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Anton, his wife, and their seven children live on a farm near a forest. After their wheat crop fails, they face a bleak, hungry winter. The man's hunting trips to find food are unsuccessful until one cold night when he encounters a swan. Overcome by the bird's beauty, he cannot kill it, despite the fact that his family is starving. The swan rewards him by dropping diamonds from its wings, and the family prospers. The text sometimes is forced and stilted, as when Anton agonizes about whether to shoot the bird. "`I cannot kill beauty. If I kill this swan my family will have food for one or two meals. And then what?'" The watercolor illustrations reflect the same romantic outlook. The characters are generic 19th-century peasants in a vaguely European countryside. The paintings are pretty but static, and certainly insufficient to breathe life into the lackluster text.-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564029706
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/1996
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.07 (w) x 9.86 (h) x 0.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Brenda Seabrooke
Brenda Seabrooke
Brenda Seabrooke lives in Englewood, Florida.

Delana Bettoli lives in Silverton, Oregon.

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