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COMUS by Margaret Hodges

COMUS

By Margaret Hodges (Adaptor) , Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: March 15th, 1996
ISBN: 0-8234-1146-X
Publisher: Holiday House

Hodges (Gulliver in Lilliput, 1995, etc.) bases her story on Milton's theatrical version of what may be the oldest of all English fairy tales, "Childe Roland." John, Thomas, and their sister, Alice, are lost in the woods; she is abducted by the wicked magician, Comus, but the brothers rescue her with aid from the Good Spirit and the nymph Sabrina. Although this isn't very convincing as a fairy tale, it is a nice literary antique. The writing is rather high-flown and solemn, and includes several remnants of speeches. Supernatural characters fill the scenes, but remain outside the central thrust of the narrative, spectators rather than participants, loose ends rather than compelling threads. Most of the illustrations are dark, with frightening, gargoyle-like creatures lurking around the edges. The text is set off in white rectangles against Hyman's elaborate woodland scenes, deftly drafted and painted with oils. These pictures are gothic, combining all manner of magical elements, but ensuring that everyone--good and bad characters alike--looks romantically handsome. Not an exceptional book, but quite skillfully done. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9)