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THE BEARSKINNER by The Brothers Grimm Kirkus Star


A Tale of the Brothers Grimm

by The Brothers Grimm & adapted by Laura Amy Schlitz & illustrated by Max Grafe

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2730-0
Publisher: Candlewick

The devil makes a bad bargain in this rich retelling from the collections of the Grimms. A soldier on his way home from war makes a deal: For seven years he will wear a rotting bearskin and go without bathing or cutting his hair; in return, his pockets will always be full of gold. If he can make it through the seven years without telling anyone of the bargain, praying to God or killing himself, he can keep his soul. It’s a predictably hard seven years, but he finds unexpected love and grace through good works and prevails in a deeply satisfying ending. Although this tale is not completely unknown, it’s certainly less familiar than others of the Grimms—and what a contribution this is. Schlitz’s masterful storytelling voice makes the lengthy text a joy to read aloud, while Grafe’s dark, mixed-media illustrations emphasize the difficulty of the soldier’s task, the nattily dressed devil contrasting with the skin-clad soldier. It’s an unabashedly old-fashioned retelling, making few concessions to modern sensibilities; as such, it carries a power rarely found in fairy-tale retellings. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-10)