From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4?Anise loves the stories her grandfather tells about a castle, the remains of which stand far above their tiny peasant village. The people who built it came from a faraway land seeking refuge, and danced with joy to have a new home. Even now, the ruins in the half-light of the moon look to Anise like giant stone figures dancing. When a poor, ragged family wanders into the village only to meet suspicion and rejection, Anise remembers the story of the castle's history and the villagers are persuaded to welcome the strangers and make them neighbors. This brief, didactic tale of tolerance gains mythic quality and charm from the sequence of double-spread paintings on which the text is imposed. Inspired, it seems, by Cezanne and the French Impressionists, the depictions of the red-roofed village, peasant dress, and castle ruins atop a hill suggest the setting of southern France. The muted colors and the vigor of the heavy brush strokes add to the sense of mystery and myth, giving the story a quality of timelessness.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5^-8. Set in a French village during the nineteenth century, this story within a story begins with an old man telling his granddaughter a legend about their ancestors. Once, a wise old king took as his subjects the people no one else wanted, those who were first to be mistreated or turned away. The group traveled until they found a mountain, where they built a stone castle. Then, the king's subjects danced along the parapets to let others like themselves know they could be safe there. But the farmers and vagabonds far away thought the stones themselves danced. After the old man finishes his story, some strangers appear in the village, needing a home. They are turned away until the villagers remember their heritage and invite the strangers to be their neighbors. The story combines a magical essence with the practicalities involved in being a friend. It is ably illustrated by evocative oil paintings that are bold in execution yet capture the subtleties of the story. A good tale to get a discussion started. Ilene Cooper