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A French Folktale

by Cynthia DeFelice & adapted by Mary DeMarsh & illustrated by Irene Trivas

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-531-06872-2
Publisher: Orchard

A comic thriller of a folktale, rendered in a seamless narrative, illustrating the proverbial cleverness of the youngest brother. The king promises his sick daughter's hand to anyone who can find the peaches that will cure her. The oldest brother fails, the middle brother fails, but the youngest brother succeeds in producing three perfect May peaches—with help from an old woman, who also gives him a magic whistle. The whistle comes in handy when the greedy king tells the boy that he must tend one hundred rabbits for four days before he can marry the princess. Finally, the boy is given one last task: to fill a bucket with truth. This he does by ingenuity alone, thus winning the princess's hand. This typically French machinery of tricks and obstacles runs smoothly in the capable hands of DeFelice and DeMarsh; their narration never skips a beat. At the same time, they demonstrate ample appreciation of the story's scatological humor—perfectly timed dialogue and cliff- hanging page breaks dramatize the funniest, earthiest moments. These are slightly watered-down in the soft, vague watercolors, but Trivas has her own comic pace, and overall the book has a brightly exuberant look. It reads out loud beautifully. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)