"Seven with one blow!" Well, that's quite a brave little seamstress, isn't it? To characterize Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter's fairy tale as a mere Grimm Brothers' rehash is to miss the point entirely. Although the pair has repurposed Grimm's The Brave Little Tailor
to more feminist ends, they've hung onto the story's most grisly details while seamlessly slipping in a plucky heroine to brilliant effect.
As in Grimm, the action begins when our sweet seamster takes down a passel of houseflies with a well-aimed swat. She then commemorates that action in delicate embroidered script on her walking coat. ("Seven with one blow!") Buoyed by confidence and cleverness, the seamstress then almost accidentally makes short work of a giant, then two giants, then a unicorn, and even a wild boar, all just by "following her nose."
"'Amazing!' the king exclaimed. 'Could you possibly do just one more thing for my kingdom?' The little seamstress sighed. She'd begun to fear the king was taking advantage of her helpful nature."
But not to worry; despite her good nature, this seamstress is much too smart to be taken advantage of by such a clumsy king. Potter's thoughtful, funny work in ink and animated gouache complements Osborne to a tee, with segues and interludes nothing short of genius. The big payoff comes when our girl becomes a legend: "Out of a seamstress a great queen was made, as kind and wise as she was strong and brave." (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
With this return engagement of the creators behind Kate and the Beanstalk, Osborne and Pope seem to be giving fairytale history a feminist makeover, one character at a time. Unleashing the same sass and spirit that lit up the pages of their first team effort, the collaborators here present a stalwart seamstress who, after slaying seven flies, embroiders "Seven with One Blow!" on the back of her favorite pink coat. She quickly decides that "her little workshop was far too small to contain her valor" and so sets off into the wide world, where her advertisement is repeatedly misinterpreted in a series of amusing encounters. When she's mistaken for a "woman warrior," for instance, her no-nonsense approach prompts two giants to polish each other off. Potter joins in the fun when she portrays the seamstress using her red-toned coat toreador-style to lure a unicorn into captivity. In a clever twist on the denouement, when a greedy king reneges on his promise to the heroine, Osborne sends an admiring knight to warn the seamstress, who then delivers the king's comeuppance and wins both his kingdom and the hand of the knight (she proposes, naturally). Osborne's jaunty retelling ("Her heart wagged with joy like the tail of a lamb") acts as the ideal springboard for Potter's wry illustrations, a comely pastiche of droll, spindly-legged characters and pastoral settings rendered in the same soft earth tones that marked their debut outing. This briskly imaginative romp will sew up fans' allegiance and gear them up for this pair's next Grimm makeover. All ages.