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The Firebird Hardcover – March 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hastings's lustrous retelling of this Russian folktale turns on a version by Afanasyev, an intriguing variation from the better known story on which Stravinsky's ballet is based. The Firebird actually plays a small part here; instead, the narrative focuses on the huntsman, a hapless fellow with a Jay Leno jawline and a horse smarter than Mr. Ed. Spying a Firebird feather while out for a ride, the huntsman is warned by his trusty steed that it will bring "trouble such as you have never known." The rash fellow ignores the advice, presents the feather to the king, and is promptly ordered off on a series of impossible scavenger hunts to assuage the monarch's greed. The huntsman's misadventures culminate in a dip in boiling water (his horse saves him, of course), from which he emerges a veritable Prince Valiant and wins the hand of the Princess Vasilisa. Cartwright's sleek, stylized artwork skates close to the surreal, while a dynamic, many-layered quality gives it the look of collage. Onion-domed buildings, a brief appearance by a full-bearded Orthodox priest, and other touches hint of the story's place of origin and provide a subtly sophisticated backdrop to Hastings's stylish prose. As retellings go, this one is a corker. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-- Sophisticated illustrations and a witty telling result in a slightly different interpretation of this classic Russian folktale. Aided by his wise horse, a not-so-smart huntsman traps the magical Firebird and marries beautiful Princess Vasilisa. Staying fairly true to the tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in the 19th century, Hastings emphasizes the sly humor and ironic ending in which a greedy king comes to a bad end. Cartwright's stylized illustrations make excellent use of the subtle range of colors possible in oil paint. He creates a sense of distance by layering paint in an almost collagelike manner; an interesting texture is achieved by reducing haystacks and leaves to simple repeated patterns. Although the pictures may resemble northern Europe more than old Russia, this graceful retelling has strong visual appeal. --Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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