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THE SWINEHERD by Hans Christian Andersen


by Hans Christian Andersen & Deborah Hahn

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-10052-X

Distressed by this classic's uncompromising conclusion, Hahn sets it in an appealing frame: Andersen himself tells it to a group of young friends (most of whom are pigs), who act it out in the illustrations—which also contain amusing additional dialogue—as he goes along. At the end, his audience agrees that: it's ``unbearable,'' ``unjust,'' ``he couldn't have meant it,'' etc., and they continue their play, through mutual apologies from the prince and princess to a happy alternative ending. Andersen's text may be considered sacrosanct, yet Hahn, creatively and with sensitivity, has addressed a common reaction to it. Only the original story appears conventionally as text here, and, while it has been shortened a bit, the translation is unusually lively, accessible, and in its author's spirit. Meanwhile, the tenderly drawn, informal illustrations suggest that, ``with all due respect,'' the story could be more open- ended. ``The Swineherd'' is still capable of standing on its own, with or without illustrations, and does so in many editions. Without detracting from these, Hahn suggests that it's all right to wonder about the story, and provides a gentle setting for thoughtful discussion. (Picture book. 5-10)*justify no*