Books by David Wilgus

Released: Sept. 1, 1995

The third entry in the series that spawned Here There Be Unicorns (1994) and Here There Be Dragons (1993) has 17 stories, clever poems, rousing parodies, and short pieces in diverse genres about different varieties of witches and wizards, including the hags from Macbeth, Baba Yaga, Pythagoras, an Arapaho Indian shaman, Merlin, and an assortment of others. The pieces are prefaced with chatty introductions in which Yolen tells readers her inspiration for the stories, sources of various lines or ideas, what she did in elementary school, for whom she was waiting when she started writing a particular tale, her daughter's problems, etc. With works ranging in length from brief poems to a 30-page story about King Arthur, the book's strengths are its variety and sense of humor; the latter informs all aspects of the volume in which Yolen gracefully combines things magical with things psychological. Following series format, Wilgus's detailed and extremely polished pencil drawings are included, but this time appear somewhat staid in the midst of Yolen's happy-go-lucky structure. (Anthology. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 17, 1994

The prolific Yolen (Old Dame Counterpane, p. 1419, etc.) follows her collection of stories and poems about dragons, There Must be Dragons (1993), with this similar collection about unicorns. In these 18 original pieces with accompanying autobiographical introductions, Yolen attempts to convey the majesty of this beloved mythical creature. Unfortunately, most of her stories are merely workmanlike, and the poems, with the exception of "The Hunting of the Narwhale" ballad, are unspectacular. Two stories that stand out, however, are "An Infestation of Unicorns" and "The Boy Who Drew Unicorns." While the surprise ending of the former will only be a surprise to the most unsophisticated of readers, the story is still witty and fun to read. The latter is about a damaged little boy who is healed by a unicorn, and Yolen expresses both the boy's heartache and his recovery with painful clarity. The accompanying pieces, in contrast, while intending to teach the reader about the writing process, are boring and provide little enlightenment. If anything, they prove Yolen to be a great recycler of old material — not all of it her own. She would do better to let the works speak for themselves, as they occasionally say something worth hearing. Wilgus's illustrations, on the other hand, are magnificent. The unicorn deserves better. (Stories/Poetry. 10+)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

New, reworked, or reprinted—13 stories and poems. Here, St. George is not a dragon-slayer but a friend; the dragon pits of Austar IV test trainers as well as dragons; the healer Tansy is no healer to dragons, while dragonslayer Lancot is no hero at all, except to Tansy; and, in "The Dragon's Boy"—a short story that was a predecessor of the novel of the same name—old "Linn" (a.k.a. Merlin) makes a bad dragon but a good teacher for Artos. These stories and poems are a little uneven, with language and ideas extending over a considerable span of difficulty and sophistication. Still, most have at least a glimmer of an idea, and there continues to be a ready market for dragons. And Wilgus's full-page illustrations, in soft pencil emulating the effect of lithographs rendered on stone, are especially appealing—beautifully modulated forms, subtle characterizations, classic images of dragons, handsome, formally structured compositions. Inviting. (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
THE JEWEL OF LIFE by Anna Kirwan-Vogel
Released: May 1, 1991

Old Crowe the apothecary/alchemist is fortunate in his new apprentice: young Duffy may be an unprepossessing orphan, but he displays both a lively curiosity and an unsuspected talent for magic. Within days, Duffy travels to other worlds, brings back a precious cockatrice feather, and—with Crowe explaining how alchemical substances should be interpreted not just in physical terms but also in a psychological and spiritual sense—creates the Philosopher's Stone itself. While townspeople, frightened by an eclipse, burn down Crowe's shop, Duffy reclaims the Stone after a magic battle with a dragon and uses it to bring the old man back to life. Since this spare, fluidly written story is symbol-driven, plot and characters are sculpted in bas-relief and are predictable in both appearance and behavior. Still, the author knows her herbal and alchemical lore and creates vivid, scary monsters. (Fiction. 11-14) Read full book review >