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Six Swans Hardcover – August 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this faithful translation of the Brothers Grimm, Duntze (The Twelve Dancing Princesses) explores themes of fear and silence with a somber palette and refined, elongated figures. Lost deep in a forest, a king promises a witch that he will marry her daughter in exchange for a way out. Fearing that his new wife will harm his children (from a previous marriage), he conceals them in a lone castle in the thick of the woods. However, she discovers their hiding place and sews shirts with a spell that turns his six sons into swans. The daughter escapes, vowing to free her brothers by sewing them shirts of starflowers and by keeping silent for six years. She marries, remains mute and, wrongly accused of the murder of her own children, stands at the stake about to be burned when the swan brothers arrive, the six years of silence ended. They take from her the starflower shirts and turn back into men. Duntze's drawings are architectural in their composition, each serving to convey the silent woman's isolation?dwarfing tree limbs in forest scenes and interiors sectioned in grids. Startling images of animals, whether hybrid decorations on the evil queen's mantelpiece (birds with human faces, a mermaid) or the six swooping swans, underscore the magical world in which humans and nonhumans inextricably intertwine. Duntze succeeds in depicting the darkness of human experience without shielding children from strong emotion. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-In this classic tale, a sister rescues six brothers turned into swans by a cruel stepmother by sewing them shirts from starflowers and refusing to speak or laugh for six years to break the spell. She falls in love with and marries a king, keeping her vow of silence even when his mother steals the new queen's children and accuses her of having eaten them. The spell is broken just as she is about to be burned at the stake; all six brothers are returned to human form except for one who, because of an unfinished sleeve, retains a swan's wing. This grim retelling is true to the original version, with its violence and the final burning at the stake of the king's mother. Children will find much to explore in the complex illustrations, including strange animal figures on headgear, on clothing, and in the interior designs. Libraries that own Susan Jeffers's version (Dial, 1981) or Marcia Brown's version (Scribners, 1963) of The Wild Swans-Hans Christian Andersen's more benign version of this tale featuring 11 brothers-may want to acquire this one for contrast. School libraries may want it for use in units on variants of tales.
Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: NorthSouth (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558589821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558589827
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 0.4 x 13 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,846,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dolamite on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my favorite kids books. The paintings/illustrations are original and beautiful and whimsical and human and devastating -- the woman's dress with the fish is astounding -- and I never tire of staring at them. The story is compelling.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By clara fornella on April 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is about a girl that has to remain silent and not laugh for six years to turn her brothers into humans again. She also has to sew shirts for them during this time.
The tale is alright. It shows women as heroines but in order to do it she has to sew; again women are oppressed. Read this story you will also learn about family fidelity.
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