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

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Salt by Harve Zemach

Salt: a Russian Tale adapted by Harve Zemach. Illus. by Margot Zemach, 1965.

As we have seen more than once in our Russian folktales, youngest brothers and fools often make out well when they head out into the world. This is the case for Ivan, who is both of these things. Out of pity, his rich merchant father provides him with a ship and a cargo of beams and boards, but Ivan soon discovers a mountain of salt and takes that with him to sell instead. He pleases a king in a far away land with savory new dishes and gains silver, gold, and the princess’ love. Although his jealous older brothers try to destroy his good fortune and steal his rewards, cheerful, musical Ivan wins in the end.

Again, I have to preface a description of the book’s art with a mention that it was published in 1965, and cannot compare to today’s standards of picture book art. This is primarily because there is very little color used. The pages are off white and the art is colored only in shades of brown, blue and gray. The pictures still have appeal though, with Zemach’s comfortable round villagers, lazy, smiling Ivan and a giant drying his mittens on his broad and upturned mustache providing charm.

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