Old King Guido is clearly unhappy. The spoiled occupant of Castle Corona spends his days moping, bemoaning the absence of the two things that he wants most in life: a nap and a gown that doesn't itch. Meanwhile, in a setting far less regal, two peasants have come into possession of a stolen pouch with most magical contents. Royal fun and adventure.
Actress Wiltsie deftly narrates the Newbery Medalist's protracted fairy tale, which takes place in something like a medieval Italian kingdom. The story unfolds in short episodic chapters that follow two orphaned peasant children, Pia and Enzio, who discover a leather pouch marked with King Guido's seal. Before they can understand the meaning of the objects inside the pouch, they are whisked off to the Castle Corona to become "tasters" for the king, who is fearful of being poisoned. Wiltsie alternates effortlessly between narrator and the many different voices: outspoken Pia, arrogant Prince Vito, silly and spoiled Princess Fabrizia, aristocratic King Guido. The playful tone, the mystery of a thief's identity and the wide range of voices will give listeners several hours of enjoyment. Ages 8-12. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins/Cotler hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 17, 2007). (Nov.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Long ago and far away a royal pouch was dropped in the woods; King Guido became afraid of thieves and poisoners; the peasant children Enzio and Pia became tasters for the king's family; and the contents of the pouch they found revealed their true identities. This lengthy original fairy tale is immensely satisfying both in its telling and its presentation. Each of the three sections begins with a full-page color illustration and each chapter with decorated initial letters and a miniature suggesting the subject. Heavy paper and relatively large, leaded type are two of many sumptuous details that continue throughout. Told in a comforting storyteller's voice (perhaps that of Pia, inspired by the royal family's Wordsmith), the tale unfolds leisurely, with considerable attention to the royal surroundings. Characters are clearly delineated, with the suggestion that all of them, the king and queen, the heir, the spare prince and the spoiled princess, as well as the peasant children, have grown and changed as a result of the events described. A treat for fans of the genre as well as a captivating introduction to it. (Fiction. 8-12)