Lush, opulent illustrations--skillfully designed and painted--and elegant borders and vignettes embellishing the handsome format make this a book to attract attention. Unfortunately, though, at heart the production is more pretentious than genuinely artful. Grimm's simple story (not credited) has been extended with flowery language that details, for example, sentimental images of "a strange and wonderful twilight kingdom [where] under the moonlight pure silver leaves sparkled and danced like musical chimes." The old soldier has become a simple (but oh-so-handsome) farmer lad, who undertakes his quest after a vision of the princesses' dead mother and with the help of a magical flower grown in his garden; in contrast to Grimm, where at the end the soldier sensibly takes the eldest princess to wife since she's closest of his own age, the lad and the youngest are attracted to one another from the beginning like romantic but modern teen-agers. With their delicate decorations and glowing flowers, the illustrations have their charm; but it is the charm of a fairy-tale world where a farmer poses in a field untouched by the tool he holds--even though his basket seems to contain something he has just harvested. Acceptable, then, but less fine than it seems at first glance.