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The Sea King's Daughter: A Russian Legend Paperback – February 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6. A poor but gifted musician draws the attention of the King of the Sea, who invites him to visit his palace under the sea. The ruler then becomes so taken with the young man's music that he insists Sadko stay and marry one of his daughters. The Sea Queen, however, whispers to Sadko that if he kisses or embraces his sea-wife, he will never be able to return home again. That evening he lies next to his bride, the Princess Volkhova, but never touches her. The next morning he awakes beside the River Volkhov in his beloved city of Novgorod. He becomes a rich merchant, marries, and raises a family, but whenever he plays his music near the river, he thinks he sees the Princess Volkhova raising her head out of the water to listen. This retelling retains the flavor of Old Russia. Shepard includes detailed notes about the story, his sources, and a brief pronunciation guide. Spirin's full-page watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are lavish, highly decorative, and somewhat formal in their execution. Done in a palette of sepia-toned browns, reds, and blues, the pictures are highly stylized and reminiscent of a late 19th-century illustrative style. The depiction of the Sea King's family is interesting; while some of the undersea creatures are depicted as mermaids, the Sea King and his family wear traditional Russian dress and have legs and feet. Overall, this is a fascinating spin on mermaid/human interaction and should appeal to an older picture-book audience.?Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

1997 New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year 
1998 American Library Association Notable Children's Books 
1998 NCSS/CBC Notable Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 
1997 Aesop Accolade, American Folklore Society 
1998 Honor Title, Storytelling World Awards 
1997 Cincinnati Enquirer Best Illustrated Children's Books 
American Bookseller Pick of the Lists 
Starred review, Publishers Weekly 
Featured on "CBS This Morning"
"Emotionally authentic prose and jewel-like illustrations make this an exquisite volume. . . . [A] mood of eloquent enchantment." -- Publishers Weekly, Aug. 25, 1997, starred review
"Exquisite." -- The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 26, 1997
"Knock-your-socks-off beautiful. . . . Will stay in a family's library forever." -- Valerie Lewis, "CBS This Morning," Dec. 11, 1997
"Retains the flavor of Old Russia. . . . A fascinating spin on mermaid/human interaction." -- Denise Anton Wright, School Library Journal, Dec. 1997
"The telling is descriptive yet very accessible. . . . The pictures are gorgeous and resplendent with extraordinary details." -- Stephanie Zvirin, American Library Association Booklist, Nov. 15, 1997
"Aaron Shepard proves once again that he is one of the finest authors working in the field of folktales today. Meticulous research and a respect for the story, as well as those who have told it, characterize all of Aaron's works. Set off by illustrations that are as wondrous and detailed as the story, this is a book that begs to be read aloud." -- Kip Nead, Growing Up, Nov. 1997
"Aaron's prose is both lyrical and storyteller-friendly, plus he includes excellent notes on his sources and the historical and cultural background of the story." -- Katy Rydell, Stories, Winter 1998
"Involving. . . . Stunning." -- Susie Wilde, WUNC-FM
"Lush language and Gennady Spirin's intricate watercolors make The Sea King's Daughter a feast for ear and eye." -- Mary Quattlebaum, Washington Parent, May 1998
"Rich. . . . This book will delight students of all ages." -- The Mailbox Bookbag, Aug.-Sept. 1998
"Shepard masterfully brings this story to a new audience." -- Janet Marnatti, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 15, 1998
"A satisfying story, beautifully illustrated." -- Marilyn Courtot, Children's Literature, June 1998
All at once the river grew rough, and strong waves began to slap the bank. "Heaven help me!" cried Sadko as a large shape rose from the water. Before him stood a huge man, with a pearl-encrusted crown atop a flowing mane of seaweed.
"Musician," said the man, "behold the King of the Sea. To this river I have come to visit one of my daughters, the Princess Volkhova. Your sweet music reached us on the river bottom, where it pleased us greatly."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," stammered Sadko.
"Soon I will return to my own palace," said the King. "I wish you to play there at a feast."
"Gladly," said Sadko. "But where is it? And how do I get there?"
"Why, under the sea, of course! I'm sure you'll find your way."
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THE SEA KING'S DAUGHTER: A Russian Legend. Illustrated by Gennady Spirin. A poor musician is invited to play in the Sea King's palace, where he's offered more than riches. An A.L.A. Notable and N.Y. Times Best Illustrated. Ages 7 and up.
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ONE-EYE! TWO-EYES! THREE-EYES!: A Very Grimm Fairy Tale. Illustrated by Gary Clement. Two-Eyes is different from her sisters and others, because she has just two eyes. A New York Public Library selection for "Children's Books 2007: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing." Ages 7-12.
KING O' THE CATS. Illustrated by Kristin Sorra. Peter is notorious for telling wild stories -- so who will believe him now, with his crazy claims about cats? A Junior Library Guild Selection. Ages 4-12.
THE PRINCESS MOUSE: A Tale of Finland. Illustrated by Leonid Gore. When a young man seeks a wife by way of family tradition, he finds himself engaged to a mouse. A New York Public Library selection for "Children's Books 2003: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing." Ages 4-12.
THE MAGIC BROCADE: A Tale of China. Illustrated by Xiaojun Li. To save his mother's life, a young man must retrieve her weaving from the fairies of Sun Palace. Ages 4 and up.
LADY WHITE SNAKE: A Tale from Chinese Opera. Illustrated by Song Nan Zhang. When a thousand-year-old snake takes human form and marries for love, she must fight for both her marriage and her freedom. Ages 7 and up.
SAVITRI: A Tale of Ancient India. Illustrated by Vera Rosenberry. The princess Savitri must use all her wit and will to save her husband from the god of death. A California Collection selection. Ages 7 and up.
THE MAIDEN OF NORTHLAND: A Hero Tale of Finland, from the Kalevala. illustrated by Carol Schwartz. Two epic heroes vie with magic for the hand of a sorceress's daughter. An Aesop Accolade winner. Ages 9 and up.
MASTER MAID: A Tale of Norway. Illustrated by Pauline Ellison. When Leif goes to work for the troll, only the advice of a remarkable young woman can save him from his foolishness -- if only he'll listen! Ages 4 and up.
MASTER MAN: A Tall Tale of Nigeria. Illustrated by David Wisniewski. Shadusa thinks he's the strongest man in the world -- till he meets the real Master Man. Caldecott Award-winning illustrator! Ages 5 and up.
THE GIFTS OF WALI DAD: A Tale of India and Pakistan. Illustrated by Daniel San Souci. Wali Dad, a humble grass-cutter, never asked for wealth -- so why can't he give it away? An Aesop Accolade winner. Ages 4 and up.
THE CRYSTAL HEART: A Vietnamese Legend. Illustrated by Joseph Daniel Fiedler. The mandarin's daughter did not really see the boatman who sang from the river, but she's sure he's her destined love. A Bank Street College Best Children's Book. Ages 7 and up.
FORTY FORTUNES: A Tale of Iran. Illustrated by Alisher Dianov. When a young man's wife makes him pose as a fortuneteller, his success is unpredictable. Ages 7 and up.
THE ENCHANTED STORKS: A Tale of Bagdad. Illustrated by Alisher Dianov. The Calif and his Vizier try a spell that changes them into storks, then find they can't change back. Ages 7 and up.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689842597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689842597
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,322,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
The story of the legendary Russian hero Sadko comes from a byliny, an epic ballad, composed by a minstrel during medieval times, although today it is better known as an opera by Rimsky-Korsakova. The story is set in the city of Novgorod, which was on the banks of the River Volkhov on a major trade rout that made it the greatest commercial center of medieval Russia. "The Sea King's Daughter: A Russian Legend," reflects the Russian legend that every river has its own nymph, who is the daughter of the great Sea King into whose water all rivers flow. At the start of this story Sadko is but a simple musician who lives in river port city of Novgorod the Great who spends each day attending the feasts of the city's rich merchants where he plays his 12-string gusli as the guests dance. But while many a fair maiden catches his eye, they all belong to rich families that would never accept a poor musician.
However, one night Sadko's music reaches the ears of the Sea King himself, who had come to the River Volkhov to visit his daughter, Volkhova. The Sea King insists that Sadko must come and play his wonderful music in the great hall of the huge palace beneath the sea. Even if the title of this legend was not "The Sea King's Daughter" you would already have an idea of where this story, retold by Aaron Shepard, is going. However, there is a very interesting twist to the tale and one which provides a nice insight in the Russian character. This is not a predictable story and young readers will be struck by how different it is from the other fairy tales on which they have grown up.
Regardless of what you think of the story, the illustrations by Gennady Spirin are worth picking up this oversized storybook.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By mom of 3 on May 5, 2003
Format: Library Binding
As the mother of 2 adopted Russian children (and one biological), I am working toward putting together a collection of Russian story books that my children will treasure in years to come. The Sea King's Daughter, in addition to being a feast for the eyes, is also rich with history. In the beginning of the book, there is a whole history of Russia and where the story originates. It is fascinating and really gives a depth to the book that is hard to find in other children's fables and fairy tales.
The pictures are so amazing that it really generates discussion when we read it to our 6 year old. She likes to choose her favorite dress in the centerfold!
A delightful book - I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys richly illustrated and different children's books.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Author Aaron Shephard gave me this book and I treasure it, since I am very keen on the classics and books that have excellent and engrossing.
It is a Russian tale of ancient heroes like the merchant musician Sadko which are as the book notes preseved in epic ballads known as byling (pronounced BIL-lin-ee) a term meaning "what has been". This is one treat that I like about the book. Beginning on page 30 Mr. Shepard explains the roots of the story and in doing so the reader is exposed to a rich culture of the legends.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first discovered the artwork of Gennady Spirin with a children's rendition of 'The Tempest'. The 'Sea King' is just as beautiful. Spirin seems to have been inspired by renaissance masters like Botticelli. His illustrations seem very mature, but I've read these books to my nieces and nephews and they peered over the pages with wonderment.
His old world style translates the tale vividly. I applaud his never underestimating a child's own ability to appreciate art.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RedDwarfFan on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is another children's book that I bought for Gennady Spirin's illustrations. What can I say? What a talented artist Spirin is. Look for yourself. You'll be surprised.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeryl Metz, Books on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A handsome retelling of this Russian folktale with superb illustrations by Gennady Spirin. A wonderful gift to give for all ages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Because it's a Russian legend many may not be familiar with it. But its a very good tale and the basis of a Rimsky-Korsakov opera. Aaron Shepard does a great job in the re-telling of it. The story flows so easily like the sea in which it takes place. The illustrations by the Russian artist, Gennady Spirin, are absolutely gorgeous. They always are, but the subject matter here is so different than his other works. One cannot help but be captivated. You will not be disappointed with anything in this wonderful children's book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a joy to look at, and the pictures will surely capture you child's imaginations. Set in long-ago Russia and the seas beneath, the story follows the brief love affair between a young minstrel and a mermaid. In the end, the young man choses to return to the land above the waves, but the bitter-sweet memory lingers. My 4-year-old mermaid daughter enjoyed it, but the book is probably more suited to slightly older kids and early readers.
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