In a well-shaped original fairy tale, Argentine writer Bucay tells the story of a king who transforms from windbag to wise man with the help of an even wiser man.
As kings will do, he sees himself as the height of power, admiration and obedience; his subjects fear him. It comes to the king’s attention that a humble village magician possesses powers even greater than the king: He can see the future. The king sets an evil trap, inviting the magician to dinner and then posing the question: “Tell me the exact date of your death.” The magician replies: “[T]he magician of this kingdom will die the exact same day as his king.” That takes the wind out of the king’s sails. He must keep the magician safe, and in so doing, he spends much time in the old man’s company. Subconsciously, the king starts to ingest the magician’s advice, advice about justice, caring and love—and so the king begins to resemble the magician. Bucay’s text in an uncredited translation is appropriately folkloric and tinged with humor. Gusti’s artwork is a potpourri of dreamy shapes mingled with the sharp edges of turrets, tiles, cypress trees, a crescent moon and speckled clouds.
Charming and instructive: It’s as if Machiavelli had been turned upside down and given a good shake. (Picture book. 4-8)