The townsfolk of Hamelin, Germany, as presented in Lemieux's ( What's That Noise? ) mannered oil paintings, are a sharp-featured, unsavory-looking lot. And appearances do not deceive: greedy and selfish, they spend most of their time eating and drinking, and they believe that ``their children only take up time and cause trouble.'' But trouble acquires new meaning when, on the day before Christmas in 1283, thousands of rats invade the town, raiding holiday feasts and eating everything in sight, including ``pillows, books, buttons, chairs and tables.'' They even ``bit people in bed so that no one could sleep.'' Lemieux does justice to this timeless tale with a sprightly text and arresting illustrations. Exaggerated proportions and skewed perspectives nod at the medieval setting; the stern interiors of Hamelin are decorated in muted tones, while carnival-like colors highlight scenes featuring the Pied Piper. An endnote summarizes the historical event behind the legend and also offers various interpretations of the disappearance of the Hamelin kinder . All ages. (Aug.)
Gr 2-5-Despite the availability of several illustrated retellings of the legend, this one is a welcome new addition. While departing somewhat from the version memorialized in Robert Browning's poem, which itself changes the few solid facts upon which the story is based, Lemieux tells of the medieval German town inexplicably overrun by rats one Christmas Eve. She relates the events in simple prose that is ideal for reading aloud. The greedy and selfish townspeople pressure the Mayor into offering a thousand gold pieces for eliminating the pests. When the mysterious stranger pipes the rats to their death by drowning in the River Weser and is denied his promised reward, he takes his revenge by piping the town's children away, never to return. The stylized oil paintings are softly colored, yet filled with light and movement. Most are double-page spreads, which dramatically bring the story to life. One, of the piper's feet surrounded by scampering rats, is particularly effective. An excellent choice for all collections.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
ger for reading aloud. This is a sturdy retelling of the Pied Piper legend, illustrated in pleasing and sometimes intriguing watercolors. Lemieux's unusual perspective provides an edge to the artwork that is absent from the text, especially when she shows the town of Hamelin overrun by malevolent rodents. When the town council refuses to pay the Piper for ridding Hamelin of rats, the musician pipes the children over the river and behind the mountains, from which they never return. The concluding sentence ("But ever since that time, when the wind blows from behind the mountains, you can hear the laughter of happy children.") is somewhat anticlimactic and leaves the story without a sense of closure. An author's note identifies the source as Robert Browning's poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," written in 1842, which was based on an actual incident that took place in Hamelin, Germany, in 1284. This is a solid additional title for folktale and storytelling collections.