A SCYTHE, A ROOSTER, AND A CAT by Janina Domanska


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A splendid book--in which three poor brothers, each with a single possession, smartly make their fortunes (to no one's loss), and the handsome pictures are cunningly fitted to the tale. The brothers are: Vassily--who begs a supper also for his scythe, cuts the Boyar's clover, then trades the scythe to the Boyar for a bag of emeralds (the scythe, duly 'fed, still does no work of course--whereupon one of the villagers swings it in fury, and so learns to use it); Nickolaus--whose rooster calls ""up the sun"" (or, so Nickolaus says), sparing the valley-folk the task and leading the Prince to reward him for leaving it behind (to crow, of course, ""from midnight to dawn""--and always bring the sun up); and Alexander--whose cat catches the Tsar's rats, which is certainly worth a diamond ring and ""a casket of precious stones."" The pictures are at once decorative, emblematic, and illustrational (one first takes in the whole image, then picks up the pattern and detail)--and the colorings, in particular, are exceptional: a range of muted, semi-precious hues such as one might find in an old folk embroidery. Slyly humorous in the telling and the depiction, and soul-satisfying altogether.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1981
Publisher: Greenwillow