Books by Alain Vaës

THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA by Alain Vaës
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

In this witty makeover of the Andersen tale, a grasping queen almost corners the diamond market before an opal—and an Opaline—derail her scheme. After forbidding any other engagements in the kingdom until Prince Ralph is hitched, Queen Frieda proceeds to set tests that none of the candidate princesses, despite expertise in areas as diverse as yo-yo tricks and cyberspace-ecology, can pass. Prince Ralph drives off in high dudgeon—or actually, in a car, which breaks down on an isolated road. Enter grease-spattered Opaline von Highbredde, tow-truck driver and crown princess of neighboring Lower Crestalia. It's love at first sight. Vaës (Puss in Boots, 1992, etc.) places doll-like figures into elegant Edwardian (or thereabouts) settings, and even Opaline, despite her spotted overalls, stands with a dancer's grace, not a hair out of place. Perched atop 20 mattresses, the princess spends a sleepless night, not because of the pea at the bottom, but because the huge opal she wears around her neck has caught in her long hair and is lodged in the small of her back. Even the Queen blesses the happy couple the next morning—once she finds out about the huge fortune Opaline stands to inherit. There's a theatrical air to the story and pictures here, which comes as no surprise, as Vaës is a set designer for the New York City Ballet. Winning. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
PUSS IN BOOTS by Lincoln Kirstein
adapted by Lincoln Kirstein, illustrated by Alain Vaës
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1992

A cinematic expansion of Perrault's (uncredited) story in large, elaborately illustrated format. Kirstein adds explanatory detail typical of a dramatization, some of it reflecting 20th- century concerns—e.g., the miller's older sons, ``worried about his failing memory,'' force him to write a will. Also, the cat uses a magic feather to restore the fields ravaged by the ogre, and is last seen lording it over some mice who are polishing the boots he's turned to gold. There's nothing terribly wrong with these additions, but they don't add much, either. Vaâs, a costume designer for the New York City Ballet, provides a sumptuous, meticulously detailed setting recalling the Louis XIV era, depicting peasants and nobles with satirical glee (W. C. Fields plays the king) and the cat with the wry precision of an affectionate longtime observer of his species. Overblown, perhaps, but there's much to admire in the skillfully crafted art with its multitude of 17th-century references. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >