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BEARHEAD by Eric A. Kimmel


A Russian Folktale

adapted by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8234-0902-3
Publisher: Holiday House

 Kimmel states that he has adapted ``Ivanko the Bear's Son'' by giving the protagonist a bear's head on a man's body rather than the reverse, and by having him outwit a witch instead of his stepfather. Obviously, these changes substantially alter the story's inner meaning,but Kimmel's version is an amusing tale of an apparent bumbler who repeatedly triumphs by taking instructions literally. Bearhead takes his father's place when he's summoned to be the witch's servant, soon so discombobulating her household (e.g., when she asks him to clear the table, he throws it out the window) that she tries to get rid of him by sending him off to a goblin; a clever ruse saves him and results in vast wealth. Mikolaycak's beautiful illustrations are notable for their skillful, dramatic compositions; firmly enclosed on three sides, they open on a fourth to allow a pleasing accommodation of the textan innovative, very satisfactory design. Enriched by old-world Russian detail, they depict a sturdy, charming hero, an intriguing frog/sea-monster goblin who's more debonair than appalling, and an oddly vulnerable- looking witch. A satisfying story in a handsome setting. (Picture book. 4-10)