THE CRYSTAL CHILD by Barbara Wersba


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She was made of rainbows and the moon,"" says Wersba at one point of the Crystal Child--and this is for poetical souls who like their stories constructed of the same materials. The child is a crystal statue of a twelve-year-old girl, forgotten by everyone except for two regular visitors: the old gardener, who comes each morning and clips away the rose stalks that brush her dress, and the young boy of 14, who comes every day after school to gaze at her ""transfixed."" When gardener and boy meet at last, the old man tells the young one of a fire that killed the little girl's mother 80 years before--and how the child wept in the garden until first her tears and then she herself turned to crystal. The boy, whom we hear is accused of being cold and bookish, now falls in love with the child, and his tears for her, falling on her hands, awaken the statue--but this is no sleeping beauty awakening. Instead of taking up life with the boy, the child joins up with her ghost mother and the two walk off into the sunset. The prose is studded with references to dew like jewels, a sun like diamonds, and roofs shimmering in a silver light. The very typeface seems to shimmer too, and Diamond's hushed, moody illustrations also conspire to reinforce the atmosphere of flickering mirage. On second thought, the moon is too solid for comparison; this is all mist and flutter and simulated sensitivity.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row