"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clever Katya by Mary Hoffman

 Clever Katya retold by Mary Hoffman. Illus. by Marie Cameron, 1998.

This book is based on the folk tale “The Wise Little Girl.” When two brothers, Dmitri and Ivan, have a dispute over the ownership of a new foal, they take their case before the young Tsar. He sets them a riddle, and the horse will belong to he who answers best. Luckily for Ivan, his seven year old daughter, Katya, easily solves the puzzle. Unfortunately, the Tsar sets her another riddle, and if she fails to solve it, it will be off with Ivan’s head. She must appear at the palace neither on horseback nor on foot, neither naked nor dressed and neither bringing a present nor empty-handed. Could Katya be clever enough to fulfill the bargain, save her father and impress the Tsar?

Cameron’s vivid pictures are bordered with patterns of sunbursts, leaves and birds in a palette of gold, red and deep blue. These are matched by the design around the letters beginning the first word of each page’s text. Every frame is bursting with things that please the eye, including Katya appearing at the palace, with her non-garment streaming out of the border.

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