From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5?First published in 1922 in a magazine, this original parable appeared in many venues before it was offered as an illustrated children's book (Oxford Univ., 1939; o.p.). This reissue reproduces the original illustrations and adds an introduction by Jan Morris and an afterword by Samuel J. Rogal, a Maugham scholar who traces the history of the story, places it within the context of the writer's work, and briefly sketches the career of the artist. Set in Siam (now Thailand), the tale concerns the friendship between Princess September, the ninth daughter of the king and queen of Siam, and a nightingale that flies freely in and out of the palace. The young princess' eight older sisters, all also named for the months of the year, convince her to protect her beloved bird by locking him in a cage. She follows their advice, telling him that she only wants to make him happy. He responds: "I cannot sing unless I'm free, and if I cannot sing I die." He almost expires before she sets him free, an act that brings her lifelong rewards. The highly stylized, flat illustrations, reminiscent of Pauline Baynes's work, decorate each page while small figures are interspersed within the text. Characters and setting are secondary to the author's message about artistic freedom in this literary curiosity, which will probably be of more interest to Maugham readers than to modern children.?Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"In every sense, a classic children's tale."--Family Life
"Charming little story... I liked the message-the little princess finds that her nightingale sings best when free."--Baltimore's Child
"There are details here to appeal to child and adult reader alike... Jones's stylized and colorful illustrations are a perfect complement to this story."--Children's Literature
"This new edition will delight readers of all ages."--Yellow Brick Road
"Literary-minded parents will be interested... The language is as elegant as expected; Jones's art and designs are a welcome rediscovery."--Publishers Weekly