A traditional Grimm tale is retold, with mixed results, in chapter form for “confident readers.”
The essential plot elements remain true to earlier versions; shoes are mysteriously worn out, and the king puts to death the princes who fail to find an explanation. An enterprising soldier, with a magic cloak of invisibility given to him by an old woman, follows the princesses through the silver, gold and diamond woods, sees them dancing until dawn with the enchanted princes and tells their secret to the king. Of course, he is rewarded by the hand of the eldest princess in marriage. The princesses have lovely French floral names, but everyone else, including the hero, is nameless. There is no explanation for the princes’ enchantment, and the princesses seem to enjoy the delightful adventure of secretly dancing and feasting. When the enchantment fades away, along with the princes, no one seems to care or wonder. Hoffman employs descriptive language that maintains a sense of old-fashioned syntax while remaining accessible for modern readers. But there is little that is really fresh and interesting. It is Miss Clara’s intricate, three-dimensional creations that capture the imagination. Each illustration is a gem: a photograph of a highly detailed stage set filled with interesting and delightful objects and textures.
A pleasant retelling enhanced by a truly original presentation. (Fairy tale. 7-10)