Three Middle Eastern princes woo a wise princess. She sends them on a quest and the one who finds the most precious object will become her groom. The suitors meet and while bragging and admiring their treasures, they discover that they must combine them to save the princess from death. And who wins her hand? Mohsen, her favorite, who sacrifices the most, entirely gives up his gift to save her life. The wisdom of the princess, the kindness of all, and the selflessness of each character add a dimension to this well-told puzzle tale.
Gr 2-4-A wise and beautiful princess is wooed by three princes. Two are men of wealth and renown, while the third, Mohsen, possesses ``little more than his handsome face, his cloak, and his camel.'' It is he, of course, whom she wishes to marry. To give him a chance to compete with them, she sends them all on a quest, vowing to marry the one who returns with the greatest wonder. The first finds a crystal ball; the second, a flying carpet; Mohsen, a curative orange. On their return journey, the men see tragedy in the crystal ball-the princess is dying. The carpet whisks them back to the princess, and Mohsen feeds her his orange. She is saved, but still the question remains-which prince should she marry? She chooses Mohsen because he has sacrificed his treasure for her. Storytellers familiar with Virginia Tashjian's With a Deep Sea Smile (Little, 1974; o.p.) or Harold Courlander's The King's Drum & Other African Stories (Harcourt, 1962; o.p.) will recognize this as a variant of the African story, ``The Search.'' But where these earlier versions leave the final question unresolved, Kimmel's tale provides a satisfying conclusion. His smooth narrative is strong and direct-traditional in structure, but with a fresh, contemporary voice. Dark underpainting and dense blocks of bold color give Fisher's illustrations weight and dimension, while his dramatic use of light focuses the eye effortlessly through the pictures. A welcome addition that deserves to become a read-aloud standard.-Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL