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THE JEWEL HEART by Barbara Helen Berger


by Barbara Helen Berger & illustrated by Barbara Helen Berger

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-399-22681-8
Publisher: Philomel

 The story of a violinist named Gemino, who has a jewel heart but no voice, and a dancer named Pavelle. One day, Gemino disappears, and Pavelle follows the shadows (a beautifully rendered collection of animals drawn in eerie blue tones) to where Gemino has fallen and hit his head. He is in tatters because a wood rat ``nibbled his hair, nibbled his clothes, and took his jewel heart.'' The shadows bring Pavelle spider's thread, a thistle thorn, some dandelion down, and one brown seed, so that Pavelle can put Gemino back together again. She stitches a suit of shadows, gives him the seed for a new heart, and he comes back to life and begins to play for her once again. She dances, and Gemino's seed heart bursts into a flower--finer, in Pavelle's mind, than any jewel. This classic ballet scenario is a beautiful story, although the jewel moral at the end is clunky, and--whether intentionally or not--the narcissism and imperiousness of ballet dancers comes through loud and clear. Gemino and Pavelle are a bit saccharine and unoriginal, but Berger's (Gwinna, 1990, etc.) illustrations have a dreamlike quality that works perfectly with the tone set by the text. Magical if sentimental. (Fiction/Picture book. 3-8)