Gender expectations get a tweak with the arrival of a new little sibling for twins Emilio and Rosa.
Following a loud refusal to join the women who have gathered to help Momma through labor, Rosa’s life takes such a turn for the worse—diapers, housework, cooking, ugh—that at last she furiously runs off to live in the trees (till dinnertime). She creates an even bigger stir by insisting on signing up for the formerly boys-only Great Hunt of the Boar, promising her shocked father she’ll return to her despised domestic duties if she loses. (She doesn’t lose.) Meanwhile, Emilio is thrilled by the new arrival (“Is it a boy or a girl?” “Why don’t you look for yourself?”). He just feigns reluctance to take over child care duties after his sister threatens to disclose his secret reading, and he avoids signing up for the hunt himself but coaches Rosa on the best techniques for success. As in earlier episodes, on nearly every page Blackall deftly captures the characters of fiery Rosa, gentle Emilio, and the rest of Benevento’s olive-skinned country cast in her two-color sketches. Also as in most of the earlier volumes, the local supernatural residents remain present but just out of sight…though a closing revelation hints that that may not always be the case.
Trials, tempests, and triumphs in a still-beguiling Italian country setting. (historical and cultural afterwords) (Fantasy. 8-10)