Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Oscar Wilde & illustrated by Susan Saelig Gallagher

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1995
ISBN: 0-399-22448-3
Publisher: Putnam

 The 1888 classic illustrated in a more robust and detailed manner than Zwerger's misty, ethereal version (Picture Book Studio, 1984). Here the illustrator, whose work first appeared in Mary Pope Osborne's Moonhorse (Knopf, 1991) has chosen to depict a fully imagined world, complete with 19th-century period detail: children in caps and pinafores playing with hoops and sticks and marionettes; the giant toting his lute, portmanteau, and picnic basket; the Hail personified as a blind man in pantaloons and a hat straight out of Tenniel tapping with his umbrella on the roof slates. The palette is soft brown, green, peach, and gold; even the snow-and-ice scenes have a faint golden glow. The face of the little Christ-figure is never shown, preserving the mystery of the text. For all its period aura, Gallagher's style is distinctly modern, marked by the use of extreme high and low vantage points and seemingly random cropping, so that even important figures and objects may be cut off by the frame. The effect is somewhat like looking into a room through a keyhole; because the aperture is not large enough to encompass the entire scene, the result is an intense focus on that part of it that can be seen. Dramatic and memorable. (Picture book. 8+)