Using a light touch and a fanciful, indeterminate setting (is it medieval? is it Edwardian? is it Venetian?), Duntze freshens up an old favorite, the tale of a crafty soldier who outwits a dozen princesses determined to dance the night away. Her sherbet-hued palette, her elegantly precise lines and her evident pleasure in details add up to luscious fantasy, easily incorporating the magical elements of the story (a cloak that renders the wearer invisible, trees of silver, leaves of diamonds). Even the endpapers, scattered with a dozen pairs of tiny stylish shoes, hint of wonder. From start to finish, a pure delight. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a newly illustrated rendition of Anthea Bell's translation from the German, here again is that classic tale of the princesses who steal away each night from their closely guarded bedrooms and come back with their shoes mysteriously in holes. Duntze's paintings are fanciful and elegant, and in keeping with the dreamy quality of the story. Sometimes she surprises the reader by importing a cultural component that seems oddly in contrast with the rest of her artwork, as in the juxtaposition of the figures of the jester and the scribe. Nothing revolutionary, but this is a pleasant book, adding to the genre of classical tales retold for contemporary children.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
This is a very strange story about a king who had twelve daughters. Although he sent them off to bed early each night, each morning the princesses were tired and their slippers were worn out. The princesses would not tell their father why they were so tired, so he issues a decree; whomever shall find the reason for their tiredness will marry the princess he chooses and inherit the kingdom. Traditional folktale drawings and text as well as the sexist outcome make the story unappealing in today's world.
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Gr 2-4-- Carter has chosen the elaborate French version of the Grimms' simple tale as the basis of her retelling. A handsome young cowherd named Michael, with the aid of a mysterious lady and two enchanted laurel trees, discovers how the king's 12 bewitched daughters dance their slippers full of holes each night and marries the youngest princess. Carter's text is much more smoothly written than Mayer's (Morrow, 1989), with an easy flow and a slight formality that suits the mannered tale well. Subtle touches of humor and hints that there may be more to the story than readers are being told add depth and help to maintain readers' interest. Unfortunately, Dalton's illustrations undermine that interest. Her faces are particularly distracting--flat and insipid and unbelievable. The beautiful and haughty princesses only look vapid, with the same expression (or lack thereof) repeated over and over. In an elaborate double-page spread, when Princess Lina declares her love for Michael, both central figures look like dolts. Their round, open mouths and awkward postures detract from the drama of the scene and make it hard to take the story seriously. Faces aside, Dalton does an effective job with the settings. The silver forest is glitters, the costumes have an appropriate confectionery richness, and the small drawings that appear on several pages add a nice decorative note. Overall, this is a serviceable addition to collections in which illustrated folk and fairy tales are in demand, and should find further use as a read-aloud. --Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
nger for reading aloud. Twelve princesses go to bed at night with their shoes intact and wake with the soles worn through in this fantastical tale, seamlessly translated from the German. Duntze's watercolors more than meet the challenge of the fantasy: her princesses lounge in silks and satins, roam through underground woods of silver and diamonds, and dance the night away on a parquet floor in an underground palace. Graceful figures in elaborate dress are placed in stylized, formal settings, and there is a wealth of colors and textures to engage and delight. An easy sell to a wide range of readers.