THE SEA KING by Jane Yolen


Age Range: 6 - 9
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Combining several elements of Russian folklore, the authors create an engaging tale using old motifs in new ways. A king spares an eagle he was going to shoot; the eagle speaks and promises to be useful, offering the king two boxes that he’s not to open just yet. He does, of course, and when the enclosed livestock run amok, the sea king, Morskoi Tsar, gathers them back, making the king promise to give him “that which you do not know is in your house.” The king returns home to find he’s promised his baby son, born while he was away. When the prince is claimed, he has a few adventures with the iron-toothed Baba Yaga and the sea king’s daughter Vasilisa the Wise, who with her sisters is sometimes a bird. The sea king sets the prince to three tasks, which he accomplishes with the help of Vasilisa, a relationship sure to end in marriage. The bright, deep colors of Russian folk art, particularly the nesting dolls called matryoshka, inform the pictures, making pleasing patterns. Because the faces are built on these geometric forms, expressions are limited to a grimacing smile or a turned-down comma for a frown. Lots of folkloric elements neatly combined and pictures bright enough for group reading create a nice addition to Yolen’s huge canon both singly and with collaborators. (Picture book/folktale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-56656-459-X
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002


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