Retold from Tuscan sources, this brief, amiable version of a tale better known as ""Clever Manka"" is matched to...

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"CATERINA, THE CLEVER FARM GIRL"

Retold from Tuscan sources, this brief, amiable version of a tale better known as ""Clever Manka"" is matched to appropriately informal illustrations, but neither text nor art does the story justice. Caterina's quick wit earns her a royal marriage, but her new husband soon becomes annoyed at having his decisions constantly questioned. Finally he sends her back to her father, telling her to take what she values most--and he wakes up the next morning in a farmhouse bed. Suffusing the spacious landscapes and interior scenes with an even, golden light, Giannini lavishes more care and attention on details of Renaissance dress, gardens, and furniture than on his generic-looking characters, and viewers may find themselves as often as not distracted from the foreground action. Peterson tells the story in a simple, unornamented way, but the idiom varies from ""If you will not reveal me, I will give you this advice,"" to ""This palace is not big enough for both of us."" Some of Caterina's cleverness remains a mystery to readers; the king proposes after what is described only as ""a witty conversation in the throne room,"" and it's his idea rather than (as in other versions) hers to take such a parting gift. There are not many folktales that are both nonviolent and feature a capable female lead; use this to introduce younger readers to the story, then offer them more developed versions as soon as possible.

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996