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A Legend of Noah’s Ark from Romania

adapted by Neil Philip & illustrated by Isabelle Brent

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-11754-7
Publisher: Clarion

Illustrated with Brent’s (Celtic Fairytales, not reviewed, etc.) glorious, gold-drenched watercolors, Philip weaves a number of Romanian pourquoi tales into the biblical story of Noah and the ark. Gathering the animals two by two, Noah sees his wife hesitating. Indeed, she won’t come on board until the water is up to her waist and Noah says angrily, “Oh, you devil, come in!” At that, the devil comes on to the ark in the form of a mouse. The mouse chews through a plank and water begins to leak into the ark, but Noah throws a fur glove at it, which turns into a cat that catches the mouse, and Noah throws them both overboard. The devil-as-mouse escapes and the cat comes back on board to dry itself in the warmest, sunniest spot, a habit that continues to this day. The origin of the flea is also neatly explained. Brent’s resplendent ark is in the shape of a red and gold dove. It carries a storied house on its back with arched doors and windows and a patterned tile roof. The pages, bordered in jewel-toned folk-art patterns, hold pictures of voluptuous beauty, from naturalistic animal portraits to a sea resembling silk ribbon shot with luminous fish. Indeed, it is the shimmering art that transforms what is a somewhat less successful text into a worthy addition to the folklore shelves. (author’s source note) (Folktale/picture book. 5-8)