Staying close to its Andersen roots, Setterington spins a beautiful retelling of a well-loved story. A king lost in the forest is rescued by a witch who gives him her daughter in marriage; fearing his wife, he hides his 11 sons and one daughter, Elise. The new queen turns the boys into swans, but doesn’t see the daughter. Elise dreams the way of saving them by weaving each a shirt of stinging nettle; she must not speak while she is doing so. Although a king marries Elise, she continues her painful task and remains silent, even when she’s accused of witchcraft. It’s only when she’s brought to be burnt at the stake that she finishes most of the last shirt and saves the brothers. This remarkable tale of sibling devotion, misleading action, and witchy ways is richer for its scherenschnitt—exquisite, intricate paper silhouettes. These black-on-white paper cuts display astonishing detail, while allowing imagination free rein. Few single editions of this story are available, making this an even more significant offering. (Folktale. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-88776-615-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003


At ``Step 2'' in the useful ``Step into Reading'' series: an admirably clear, well-balanced presentation that centers on wolves' habits and pack structure. Milton also addresses their endangered status, as well as their place in fantasy, folklore, and the popular imagination. Attractive realistic watercolors on almost every page. Top-notch: concise, but remarkably extensive in its coverage. A real bargain. (Nonfiction/Easy reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-91052-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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