This early-reader adaptation of a Russian story reads like a “Cinderella” tale but casts a third-born son as its protagonist.
Ivan does good on his promise to his dying father to sit by his grave after he dies, and he also takes the place of his older brothers in the vigil when they are too frightened to stay true to their word. As a reward for his bravery and loyalty, the father’s ghost gives Ivan a magic bridle that ends up helping him win the princess’s hand in marriage even though he isn’t as handsome, rich or successful as his brothers or the other knights who compete in the challenge she sets forth. The story is broken up into short chapters, which will support new readers’ progress through the text, but sentence length, typeface and some vocabulary may prove challenging. Illustrations will doubtlessly help clarify the story, though a key plot detail that has Ivan passing through the ears of his magical horse, Starlight Grey, is not depicted in the art. Ultimately, the fresh fairy-tale content of the story will likely motivate readers to puzzle through its delivery even if it’s not just the right fit for their skills
A title for confident emerging readers interested in new princess and knight stories. (Early reader/folk tale. 6-8)