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The Pied Piper's Magic
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The Pied Piper's Magic

1.0 1
by Steven Kellogg
Peterkin, a colorful elf, brings music and hope everywhere he goes with the aid of his magic pipe. It gives him the power to call any animal to him, and even to transform one creature into another. This is just what the evil Grand Duke needs to rid his village of its never-ending rats. But when Peter turns the rats into stars, the Grand Duke is still as mean as ever.


Peterkin, a colorful elf, brings music and hope everywhere he goes with the aid of his magic pipe. It gives him the power to call any animal to him, and even to transform one creature into another. This is just what the evil Grand Duke needs to rid his village of its never-ending rats. But when Peter turns the rats into stars, the Grand Duke is still as mean as ever. Discover the pipe?s true magic as our hero uses it to inspire and save the whole village.

Steven Kellogg?s clever new take on The Pied Piper of Hamelin is friendly, whimsical, and full of surprise.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kellogg's lighthearted take on this classic tale centers on Peterkin, a kind elf who receives a magic pipe from a miserable witch named Elbavol. He discovers that the pipe plays letters rather than notes and conjures up animals, such as a deer, by playing their names ("He was so excited that he flipped over backward. The pipe responded by reversing the letters and singing R-E-E-D. The deer was instantly transformed into a reed"). Peterkin travels to a gloomy, rat-infested town, where he accepts the Grand Duke's challenge to rid the place of rodents. He uses the pipe to turn each of them into a star, overthrows the tyrannical duke, then revisits Elbavol to work some magic on her unhappy disposition. Kellogg depicts the magic-making in bright, buoyant mixed media spreads that show streams of colorful text and corresponding animals pouring from the mouth of the pipe (even the rats seem pretty amenable to being transformed into stars). Far sunnier than the original, this slightly educational adaptation (thanks to the built-in spelling lessons within) should please parents and kids alike. Ages 3-5. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kellogg draws on the magic of a musical pipe like that of the legendary Pied Piper to focus his tale of a small spritely elf named Peterkin. In return for his offer to clean up her dreary house, a retired witch named Elbavol gives Peterkin a pipe that plays letters instead of music. Whatever he spells with it magically appears; when it is reversed it offers what was spelled backward. Peterkin arrives at a dirty city overrun with rats. The children are trying to shoo them away while their parents are at work all day, forced there by the wicked Grand Duke. When he learns that the duke has promised a million gold florins to anyone who will rid the city of rats, Peterkin soon pipes them to the duke's castle. He then reverses the pipe to make them all stars. Readers will begin to see how he can then use the magic to make a happy ending for all. Kellogg starts the story on the front endpapers, where we see happy rats pointing to the elf as he strides along a forest path. On the title page he turns his smiling face as if to invite us to join him. Complex scenes are almost overloaded with details, including the integration of the letters of the magic. Kellogg uses ink and pencil line, watercolor washes, and acrylic paints for the pages almost overflowing with color and action. On the back end pages, the whole town seems to be joyfully cavorting in the Pied Piper Fountain presided over by a statue of Peterkin and his pipe. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

This peppy new rendition bears little resemblance to the original legend. The story focuses on Peterkin, a happy elf who stumbles upon a gloomy retired witch named Elbavol. His attempts to cheer her fail, but she sends him off with a magic pipe, which plays the sound of letters. Spelling a word calls it forth, and reversing the letters changes it into something else. So when Peterkin comes to a city plagued by rats and run by a cruel Grand Duke, he uses his pipe to call up the rats and then changes them into stars. However, he still must claim his reward from the Duke. Clever readers may guess the mystery behind Elbavol's name before Peterkin does. This story does not have the haunting, thought-provoking qualities of the legend, nor is it very scary-even the rats are cute. Bright cartoon illustrations in sunshine yellows burst with colorful hearts, flowers, and rainbows except for in the contrasting dark, decrepit areas surrounding Elbavol. Children will enjoy this story without knowing the original tale, but to know only this version would be a shame.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Kellogg puts his touch to yet another classic. Going beyond the basic Pied Piper tale, the author weaves in the story of a downtrodden witch named Elbavol. After a kindness paid her by Peterkin the elf, she gifts him with a pipe. He quickly discovers its magic: The pipe plays the sounds of letters and, when used to spell words, makes those objects appear. Even better, when the words are played backwards, the objects transform accordingly. So, when faced with the rats of the (here unnamed) town, the Piper turns them all into stars . . . until the Grand Duke reneges on his promised reward. In characteristic fashion, the author joins the two story lines of the Grand Duke and Elbavol, the transformative power of love ensuring that everyone lives happily ever after. His signature artwork's colors reflect the emotions of the characters, while the clever incorporation of the words spelled by the pipe makes it clear to even the youngest readers what happens when they are spelled backwards. No matter how it is spelled, this belongs on every library shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

I have loved picture books ever since I was a child. The illustrations of Beatrix Potter and N. C. Wyeth were early favorites, and I always found any kind of animal story irresistible. I was an enthusiastic young artist as well, and I formulated pre-school plans to make drawing the center of my lifetime career. I used to dream up stories and illustrate them for my younger sisters, Patti and Martha. We called the activity: "Telling Stories on Paper." When it took place, I would sit between them with a stack of paper on my lap and a pencil in my hand, rattling off tales and scribbling illustrations to accompany them, and passing the pictures first to one of the girls and then to the other. I enjoyed these storytelling sessions enormously and I usually persevered until my sisters were too restless to sit there any longer, or until they were buried under pieces ofpaper.

I scribbled my way through elementary, junior- and senior-high school, and afterward I attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where I majored in illustration, and where I was particularly intrigued by the few projects we were given that related to the creation of picture books. I wasfortunate enough to win a fellowship that made possible a senior year of work and study in Florence, Italy. It was an exciting and fulfilling period for me, and I find that I draw constantly on the experience and images that I stored during my time there.

Upon my return to the United States I did some graduate work and teaching at American University, and at the same time I began submitting picture book ideas to various publishers. Itwas an exciting moment when the first acceptances came in, and I realized that I would be able to "tell stories on paper" full-time and to a much larger audience. I loved the challenge of putting the first books together, guiding them through the various stages of the publishing process, and thenwatching them disperse into the lives of their readers. And now, twenty-five years and almost ninety books later, I still find every aspect of my involvement just as absorbing andenjoyable.

During the time that I've been working on the picture books, I've lived in an old farmhouse in the hills of Connecticut which I've shared with my wife, Helen, and where I've raised six stepchildren, to whom most of my books are dedicated. Also in residence have been numerous dogs and cats, including a beloved harlequin Great Dane named Pinkerton, whose stubborn inadaptability during puppyhood inspired the book Pinkerton, Behave! The heroine of the sequel, ARose for Pinkerton, was our senior cat, Secondhand Rose, an independent old grouch who was born a wild thing in the Catskill Mountains, and who devoted her long life to harassing everyone in the world, including Pinkerton.

The ideas for the other books come from lots of different sources, but most of them have their roots in feelings and images that I retain from my own childhood. I try to blend illustrations and the words so that each book is a feast for the eye and ear. I want the time that the reader shares with me and my work to be an enjoyable experience -- one that will encourage a lifetimeassociation with pictures, words, and books.

Steven Kellogg talks about the art of the picturebookThe picture book is an art form that is designed specifically for children, but I feel that it can be appreciated and enjoyed by all ages. For centuries a distinguished tradition of illustrated books and manuscripts has existed of which the picture book is a part. It is a synthesis of literature and the visual arts, and the relationship of the written word and the picture is its essence.I am fascinated by the ways in which the picture book can borrow and combine diverse elements from other art forms to achieve startling and moving effects.

The turning page, for example, gives the illustrator the chance to utilize the elements of surprise to advance the movement of the story, and to deepen the involvement of the viewer in much the same way that the theatrical director uses the revolving stages or the rising curtain between thescenes and acts of a play.

An awareness of movement is extremely important in the conception of a picture book. My favorite illustrators delineate their characters so that animation is implied. The individual spreads are designed so that they crackle with graphic vitality. The characters seem to speak, cavort, andleap from the page so energetically that their life and movement are totally convincing. The moving qualities of each picture are heightened by the placement of the turning pages within the unfolding narrative and by the conception of the book as a whole. It is here that one sees the relationship between the arts of picture book design and filmmaking, as both of them deal with thephenomenon of "moving pictures."

No one will deny that language can be musical, and certainly visual images can suggest different forms of music by the feelings that they convey. The musical qualities of the pictures and the words can be orchestrated by the artist as he moves them across the pages of the book. Rhythms and harmonies can be established on some spreads, and atonal effects or dissonances can be introduced on others.

There are limitless possibilities available to the artist, who sets up relationships and tensionsbetween the illustrations and the text, allowing magical discoveries and subtle revelations to emerge in the areas between. When this happens, there is an uncanny fusion of all the elements,and the dynamic new expression that is created introduces young readers to the world of art.

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