From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 4--The gluttonous King of Capri bemoans the fact that he has "two hands but only one mouth." His advisor reminds him that his impoverished subjects can barely feed one. As bedtime approaches, the monarch, clad only in socks and a crown, hangs his food-stained clothes on the wash line. Meanwhile, across the bay in Naples, a poor washerwoman shares her meager dinner with her cat. That night the wind wreaks havoc and fortunes shift as objects are buffeted from the island to the city. The roles are reversed and the contrast between generosity and greed are made abundantly clear. Ray uses a sunlit Mediterranean palette to depict clustered port dwellings. The deeper shades of the aquamarine sea and sky heighten the brightness of the warm colors. The artist employs a variety of papers, a range of brush techniques, and miniature gold details to decorate the scenes, creating the rich layering of cloth and textures found in a palace or laundry. All's well that ends well, and a harmonious balance is achieved for both characters. With its selfish king, heart-of-gold laborer, and preponderance of fabrics, the story is reminiscent of Jeff Brumbeau's The Quiltmaker's Gift (Pfeifer-Hamilton, 1999). Predictable, but visually quite special.--Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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PreS-Gr. 2. Winterson, best known for her experimental adult novels, offers a debut title for children--an original fairy tale about reversals of fortune. The gluttonous King of Capri shares none of his riches with impoverished Naples, across the bay. Then a magical wind lifts Capri's riches and deposits them in the yard of a Naples washerwoman named Mrs. Jewel. With the King's fortune, Mrs. Jewel becomes the Queen of Naples, sharing her bounty with the city. When the contrite King tracks down his possessions, he's struck by the Queen's benevolence, and a wedding ends the story. The leisurely pace and a few puzzling plot elements may frustrate some young listeners, but children will be caught by the story's whimsy (the wind chats with a cat), and its humor: the king's appetite will earn some giggles. Ray's stunning watercolor illustrations, best viewed up close, beautifully extend the fanciful tale; children will pore over the lavish, brilliantly hued pictures of the king's mouthwatering smorgasbord and Mrs. Jewel's laundry line of sparkling cloth. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved