The first publication in English of a long tale by a Swedish author (The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, 1907) who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909. The protagonist is not the title's troll baby but the farmer's wife who faithfully cares for him after his mother seizes a chance to trade him for the couple's own child. Despite her aversion to the ugly changeling, conflicting advice from neighbors (``if you cane the troll child till you draw blood, the troll crone will come rushing back with your child...''), and her husband's bitter opposition and plots to abandon or even harm the little troll, the wife treats him as if he were her own—``He's a child, all the same''; the pain she suffers as a result makes her ever more protective. In the end, she is rewarded: her own son returns, explaining that his father's abuse of the changeling was reflected in the mother troll's treatment of him while, similarly, his true mother's kindness repeatedly saved his life. Winter's handsome stylized art, in a rich palette dominated by deep blues and purples and softer rusts and gold, brings out the story's mythic quality and its underlying theme concerning the consequences of mistreating any child. Like some Swedish films, the story bears a burden of angst that won't appeal to everyone, but it's well told, skillfully translated, and beautifully illustrated, and makes an intriguing contrast to other changeling stories—e.g., Brock Cole's lighthearted Alpha and the Dirty Baby (1991). (Fiction/Picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: March 10, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-81035-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1992

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.


From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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