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THE BRAVE LITTLE SEAMSTRESS by Mary Pope Osborne Kirkus Star


by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by Giselle Potter

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84486-7
Publisher: Atheneum

Switching genders in another traditional tale, the author and illustrator of Kate and the Beanstalk (2000) pit a clever, doughty seamstress against a swarm of flies (“Seven At One Blow”), three giants, a unicorn, a wild boar, and, most dangerous of all, a fearful king with a hundred knights. Whether facing wild beasts, or surrounded by large (sometimes very large) pale, purse-lipped men, the seamstress visibly exudes self-confidence, and though Potter places her in a medieval setting—and the way the heroine addresses her adversaries (“ ‘Hey! Unicorn! . . . Over here!’ ”)—gives this rendition a contemporary flavor. In the end, the seamstress sends the king and 99 of his knights packing; the 100th, who admires her spirit, sticks around to become king and inherit the kingdom with her. As the story is about courage and cleverness overcoming brawn, it’s actually improved by a protagonist even smaller and weaker than the tailor in the original—even more so, as Osborne points out in the source note, since its best-known versions, from the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang, were probably collected from female storytellers. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)