Books by Ann Keay Beneduce

MOSES by Ann Keay Beneduce
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

Beneduce retells stories from the life of Moses in a fictionalized biography style told in contemporary language, using both the Torah and the King James Bible as references. The freely flowing text includes the story of Moses as a baby with his sister Miriam, a summary of his younger days, and then focuses on Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt after many punishments sent by God to the Pharaoh and his people. An epilogue summarizes the remainder of the life of Moses, including the approximate time setting of the events. Spirin's detailed and light-filled pencil-and-watercolor illustrations bring the old tales to life: Miriam and baby Moses in his basket, the plagues of snakes and frogs, Moses thrusting his rod toward the sky to unleash a storm. The volume's exquisite design includes some illustrated pages with panels incorporating passages of biblical text and smaller spot illustrations at the bottom of many pages adding details and visual interest. (author's note) (Nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
PHILIPOK by Leo Tolstoy
by Leo Tolstoy, adapted by Ann Keay Beneduce, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A children's story by the great storyteller, set in the wintry scenes of a Russian village. Philipok wants to go to school so badly that he puts on his hat and starts to follow his big brother right out the door. His mother gently tells him that he is too young and must stay home. Undeterred, he decides to take matters into his own hands and, one morning when no one is looking, sneaks out of the house and heads across the village to school. On the school's doorstep, he loses his nerve, but is shooed in by a passing grown-up. Once inside, he is intimidated by the noise and activity in the room full of children. Challenged, he shows off his knowledge and demonstrates that he (more or less) knows the alphabet. To his utter delight, the teacher declares that Philipok is indeed ready for school and can join the other children in the classroom. Spirin's illustrations are less sophisticated than usual, but that makes this book all the more accessible to younger children. While the palette is subtle, with many browns and grays, there are touches of gold—the church steeple, the boy's hair—and the children's faces are sweet and appealing. No one can paint snow and fur like Spirin, and there are lovely touches of color, including the quilt on the bed and the flowers on the shawls the women wear. The double-paged spread that shows Philipok playing with his colorful toys and book is especially inviting. The language is uninspired and the story slight, but the theme will appeal, especially to those who can't wait to be grown enough to begin the same activities as their older siblings. All will admire Philipok's bravery in traveling alone across the sometimes scary village. Not as substantial a story as Kashtanka, the Chekhov story also illustrated by Spirin, but certainly not without its charms. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by Ann Keay Beneduce
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

If beanstalks are wondrous, Spirin proves it so, painting golden-lit panels with da Vinci-esque dark undertones. The watercolor and tempera paintings are paired with pages of text that tell the classic story of Jack and the Giant-Killer, based on an 1881 version in Horace Scudder's The Children's Book. Set in Tudor England, the variant tells of a fairy who appears, encouraging Jack to avenge the death of his father, killed by an evil giant. When Jack is cheated of his cow by a farmer, it is the fairy who transforms his lowly beans into a giant beanstalk. While no hairs are plucked from the giant's beard, Jack gains, in each of his three adventures up the beanstalk, bags of gold, a hen that lays golden eggs, and a magic harp. He succeeds in chopping down the beanstalk, sending the giant crashing to his doom, although no mention is made of the fates of the giant's wife and his child captives. Ornate borders with the appearance of fine brocades frame the text, while the giant is cast as a plump, toothy Cyrano, with mushroomy knees and toes as pudgy as bean pods, more roly-poly than frightening. Spirin may not surprise, but he certainly does delight. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE TEMPEST by Ann Keay Beneduce
adapted by Ann Keay Beneduce, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
CLASSICS
Released: March 19, 1996

Beneduce (A Weekend With Winslow Homer, 1993, etc.) retells Shakespeare's play in a text that reads like a fairy tale. This version emphasizes first the love story between Miranda and Ferdinand and then Prospero's forgiveness of his enemies. Some of the subplots have been eliminated (for reasons given in a careful author's note), but several songs and speeches have been folded into the story, much of which is told in dialogue. Spirin's beautiful watercolors are done in the manner of Renaissance paintings, even to the effect of old varnish affecting the tones. The scenes echo the narrative's focus on the enchantments of the play, presenting beasts worthy of Hieronymous Bosch and gentle spirits to rival the angels of Botticelli. This gorgeous picture book will be particularly useful in high school collections, for the story in the art sets the stage for this Renaissance drama. Recommended for public and school libraries: Not only does it work as a read-alone story but will prepare theatergoers for a performance of the full play. (notes) (Picture book. 8+) Read full book review >
GULLIVER'S ADVENTURES IN LILLIPUT by Jonathan Swift
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 27, 1993

A tastefully abridged version of Gulliver's first adventure. Despite severe shortening and some rephrasing, Beneduce preserves continuity as well as the flavor of Swift's narrative, and even a soupáon of its satire—``...members of the government are chosen not for their character or intelligence, but for their skill at rope-dancing.'' Spirin's elaborate borders and paintings have an appropriately antique look, combining the dress and artistic conventions of several historical periods with darkened colors and a yellowish cast suggesting the patina of old varnish. A richly comic teaser for Riordan's earthier adaptation (Gulliver's Travels, 1992) or even the timeless original. (Picture book. 9-12) Read full book review >
A WEEKEND WITH WINSLOW HOMER by Ann Keay Beneduce
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

One of the better entries in a series that approaches artists through first-person reminiscences, ostensibly addressed by the artist to a guest. Though the device has its pitfalls— some entries have been prolix and, worse, coy—Beneduce uses it creatively to explore the evolution, techniques, personal history, accomplishments, and most significant works of the great ``American Impressionist'' who tried Paris but came home to celebrate nature, especially in dramatic scenes of the sea and of country people at work. The illustrations here (some of the paintings, plus the period photos and engravings, are in b&w) are less striking than those in the concurrently published A Weekend with Rousseau, by Gilles Plazy ($19.95; ISBN: 0-8478-1717-2), but they are more carefully placed, while Beneduce's lucid, longer text is better organized and far superior to Plazy's confusingly arranged anecdotes. A fine introduction to an important American figure. (Biography. 8-12) Read full book review >