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THE HERO OF BREMEN by Margaret Hodges


adapted by Margaret Hodges & illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8234-0934-1
Publisher: Holiday House

 An agreeable German tale of avarice vanquished and true heroism, based--according to Hodges's excellent note--on a 19th- century text. Hans the shoemaker is known for his careful work and the stories he tells children about the heroic Roland, revered for making Bremen a free city. Now it's also a crowded one, and its people are negotiating for space outside the walls. A tax has been collected to pay for it, but old Countess Emma's wily nephew (and heir) makes a generous-sounding offer: they may have, free, ``all the land that a man can walk around in a day.'' The burghers agree, and (in accordance with the bargain) the nephew chooses Hans as the walker--a cruel trick, since he can progress only on ``knuckles and knees.'' Still, he does his best over rough pasture and bog, accompanied only by his beloved children and, in the end, by Roland himself, who appears to help him on his way. The late Mikolaycak's carefully structured illustrations--though still animated by close-ups and unusual perspectives--are less starkly dramatic than much of his work; tenderness prevails here, and it well befits a poignant, gracefully retold tale that's a natural for storytelling. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-10)