When her six brothers are turned into swans by their wicked stepmother, Princess Sophie must endure physical and emotional trials to save them in this warmly illustrated version of the classic fairy tale.
The seamless interplay of words and images makes the picture-book format ideal for providing narrative clarity as well as nuance to the central relationships that seem abstract in the original story. Jacobs’ alterations allot Sophie far more agency than the passive heroine of the Grimm’s version possesses, transforming the white princess into a passionate and tenacious girl who is unafraid of hard work and sacrifice in an effort to right a wrong. Her friendship with her brothers is well-depicted, making her great sacrifice reflective of her strong sense of character rather than familial obligation or feminine duty. Jacobs—an illustrator writing for the first time—has a masterful eye for colors and skillfully employs them to reflect the mood of a scene and drive the narrative. The dreamlike quality of the illustrations makes this version an ideal bedtime story; misty blues symbolize Sophie’s loneliness and isolation as she sews her brothers’ shirts, while the delicate swirl of rainbow color renders the brothers’ transformations especially magical.
A charming adaptation with a solid moral and a heroine whom little girls and boys can look up to. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)