From School Library Journal
Grade 1–4—This retelling of Washington Irving's story is a cautionary tale. Content to just "get by," Rip shirks his duties as a husband and provider by going fishing and goofing off, much to his wife's chagrin. One day after climbing into the Kaatskill Mountains and drinking with the ghostly Henry Hudson and his men, Rip falls asleep. When he awakes, he realizes that he has grown a beard and that his well-oiled gun has rusted. Twenty years have passed. His wife is now dead, but his children remember their father. In contrast to the original tale, Rip redeems himself, rebuilding his old house and mending his ways. Fisher brings his dramatic painterly style to the large picture-book pages to enhance the read-aloud experience. An earthy palette of greens and shades of brown depict the countryside. Bold black lines outline prominent characters and objects on the pages, bringing them into tight focus. Some may prefer N. C. Wyeth's illustrations in an older version of Irving's story (HarperCollins, 1987) for individual reading. Others may favor Will Moses's detailed folk-style paintings in his retelling (Philomel, 1999). But Kimmel and Fisher's offering can be seen from afar for group sharing.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
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Frequent collaborators Kimmel and Fisher take on an American literary treasure and make it accessible to young children. Irving's complex sentence structure is nowhere in sight in this retelling and adaptation, but the essence of the story remains. Both Van Winkles are slightly changed to make them not only more sympathetic to the reader but also to each other. Kimmel explains why he does this in a short author's note at the end in which he gives a few facts about Washington Irving. The drama is nicely played out with Fisher's solid, strategically placed figures. Spectacular landscapes, enhanced by bold blue skies and vibrant green flora, ensure that the setting retains its proper place but never overwhelm the Van Winkles or the citizens of their "little Dutch village . . . on the banks of the Hudson River." This unique version of the most famous return in literature deserves a place in the majority of collections, even those containing many of the dozen or so other picture-book renditions. Randall EnosCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved