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THE NIGHTINGALE by Hans Christian Andersen Kirkus Star


by Hans Christian Andersen & adapted by Jerry Pinkney & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8037-2464-0
Publisher: Putnam

Pinkney’s (Goin’ Someplace Special, 2001, etc.) gouache and watercolor illustrations have the stained radiance of sunlight through glass; even his figures appear lit from within. This vividly imagined retelling of Andersen’s Nightingale places the story in Morocco rather than China, which gives Pinkney the opportunity for sumptuous detail and wonderful pattern-on-pattern textiles, abundant landscapes, elaborately carved furniture, and extravagantly jeweled objects. The story is true to its origins: the king hears of the beautiful song of the nightingale and commands her to sing for him; she does, and he is so enchanted he wants to keep her at court. She’s allowed out only when tied to silken strings, but she continues to sing for him. Then a wind-up nightingale, bedizened in gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, is brought to the king. Even though it only sings one song over and over, the king is dazzled, and the live nightingale flies away. When the wind-up nightingale eventually runs down and the king becomes ill, death sits on his chest and cannot be chased away by song. But the real nightingale returns to sing so sweetly that even death is beguiled, and leaves the king alone. The nightingale promises to return regularly to the king, if he will but listen to his heart, and he is cured. The kitchen girl who first brought the nightingale to court is rewarded. Gentle lessons about freedom, possession, and the power of music are imparted as sweetly as the nightingale’s song and as lavishly as a king’s treasure. Exquisite bookmaking and Pinkney at his finest. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-10)