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OUCH! by Natalie Babbitt Kirkus Star


by Natalie Babbitt & illustrated by Fred Marcellino

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-205066-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

A fine, comfortable storyteller’s voice meets up with sly and elegant illustrations in this tale from the Brothers Grimm. A baby boy who is “nobody special” is born with a crown-shaped birthmark, so the local fortune-teller predicts he will marry a princess. The king, father of a newborn daughter, bribes the parents to surrender their son, on the pretext that he will raise the boy. Instead, he puts him in a box and drops the box in a river. The baby is rescued and named Marco, and grows up tall and sweet and confident. Re-discovered by the king, he is saved by mischievous bandits, marries the princess, then is sent off by his new father-in-law mid-celebration to get three golden hairs off the devil’s head. Now the story gets interesting, as Marco rides off to Hell, meets the devil’s grandmother, and brings back the three hairs—the “ouch!” of the title—while also doing away with the king and relieving a bored ferryman of his duties. The illustrations are rich in Renaissance pattern in architecture and clothing, chivied by Marcellino’s round-headed, puckish figures. Street, forest, and water vistas share the rosy golden light of fairy tale; the whole is quite satisfying. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)