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A promise of flamboyance that fails to coalesce into a satisfying entity. Many traditional fairytale elements witchy charms, good and evil sisters, prince to toad and back, gradual fade and recovery, a lost and found key (the trumpet)--are present as the narrator gently mocks the canon and introduces satiric allusions. Violetta (sweet) and Gambetta (nasty) are devoted sisters until Prince Courtesy woos and weds Violetta. Courtesy's silver trumpet--Gamboy's only pacifier--is hidden by her, and Mountainy Castle is never the same. Violetta dies, shocked by the resident dwarf's giant toad prank, and her daughter Lily is confined to a tower by her mean Aunt who gradually controls the lifeless Courtesy until . . . Prince Peerio. He finds and blows that old instrument of change, so Gamboy transforms him into a toad; Lily overcomes her frog phobia and Gamboy's face alters, she becomes Violet (who is buried?), and you can fill in the dancing last line. So much seems to be going on--the language often works on several levels--and the sometimes busy illustrations are ingenious; Mountainy Castle is pictured as a highly ornate upright piano, especially well seen in the large foldout, and each room throughout the book has a piano edge wall or key part. First published in 1925, it is easygoing and leisurely and there is a lot to watch but the suggestion of a grander design is not realized.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Eerdmans