Toads and Diamonds

Toads and Diamonds

by Charlotte S. Huck, Anita Lobel
     
 

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Renée lives with her selfish stepmother and stepsister. She does all the housework and the chores. Her only escape from their demands is her daily walk to the spring for water. One day an old woman sitting on the bench near the spring asks for a glass of water, and Renée graciously brings her one. In thanks the old woman presents her with a gift both

Overview

Renée lives with her selfish stepmother and stepsister. She does all the housework and the chores. Her only escape from their demands is her daily walk to the spring for water. One day an old woman sitting on the bench near the spring asks for a glass of water, and Renée graciously brings her one. In thanks the old woman presents her with a gift both strange and wonderful. When the stepmother sees Renée's gift, she immediately orders her daughter, Francine, to go to the spring and return with as rich a gift. But the gift Francine receives is not what either of them had expected....

The kind-and-unkind-sisters theme has long been a favorite of folklorists. In this fresh and charming version, Charlotte Huck's polished retelling and Anita Lobel's magnificent, humorous illustrations add up to a beautiful, timeless, and satisfying picture book.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Selfishness gets its comeuppance and the punishment is toads in a snappy retelling of Perrault's fairy tale. The folksy, dense paintings by Lobel (previously teemed with Huck for Princess Furball) give an edgy immediacy to the fantastical story of Rene, a sweet maiden with an evil step-family. For aiding an old woman, Rene is rewarded with a magical gift: jewels and flowers will drop from her lips whenever she speaks. Her stepsister Francine goes in search of the same blessing. Lazy and shamelessly cruel to animals and people, Francine finds herself cursed with a profusion of snakes and toads instead of diamonds. The almost nauseating heaps of scaly creatures seem the perfect offspring of Francine's sour visage, and the plain, peasant-like Rene is a refreshingly ordinary heroine. When she wins the heart of a handsome prince, it's clear he loves her for her noble heart, not her appearance nor her jewels. Huck adds a little innovation of her own, too: the blessing and curse are to last only "as long as there will be a need for it," and while Francine seems doomed forever, Rene is reprieved on her wedding day from a lifetime of issuing oral projectiles. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Renee lives with her selfish stepmother and stepsister who treat Renee unfairly. During her daily walk to the spring for water, Renee meets an old woman who asks her for a glass of water which Renee gladly gets. In return, the old woman gives Renee a wonderful gift. Jealous, Renee's stepmother sends her daughter Francine to meet the old woman. As expected, Francine's behavior is different and her gift is uniquely suited to her. Huck has taken this familiar theme and gives it a fresh presentation in this lovely picture book. It is a treat for all readers.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3This retelling of the French folktale about the kind and unkind (step)sisters is supported by impeccable scholarship and crisp, thoughtful storytelling. Huck makes the story her own through her choice of name for the resourceful heroine, Rene (meaning reborn). She also puts a limit on the young woman's unusual reward: jewels and flowers will drop from her mouth when she speaks "as long as there will be a need." In her carefully documented author's note, Huck explains that it was important for Rene to be loved for herself. The entire narrative satisfies from beginning to end. Lobel's watercolor and gouache paintings amply illuminate the story. From the first illustration, the stepmother and stepsister dominate the page, often shunting Rene to one corner. Lobel captures textures with her brush: the velvet gowns of Francine and her mother, in contrast to their doughy faces, the leaves and flowers of the trees and plants, the smooth, faceted gems that fall from the kind sister's lips, and the scaly or spotted skins of snakes and toads that fall from Francine's mouth. The striking typeface is slightly fanciful, yet clear and easy to read. This appealing collaboration from the creators of Princess Furball (Greenwillow, 1989) is a lovely addition to folktale collections.Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688136819
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/28/1996
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.44(w) x 12.32(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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