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The Water of Life: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm Hardcover – September 1, 1986


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; 1st edition (September 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823405524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823405527
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on a Grimm fairy tale, Rogasky's elegant text portrays the age-old battle between Goodness and Evil. Three sons seek the Water of Life, which will cure the illness of their father, the king, but only the youngest is pure enough of heart to find it. Before the story's end, he is tested by a good dwarf, falls in love with a princess in an enchanted castle, tames two lions, saves the kingdoms of three kings, survives the treachery of his brothers and finally finds happiness. As usual, Caldecott medalist Hyman has created stunning illustrations that are inventive and richly detailed: black rooks silhouetted by firelight, medieval tapestries in the king's bedchamber, enchanted beasts, and more. This is a simply beautiful book.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 6 A retelling of a little-known tale from Grimm. Three brothers weep at their father's fatal illness until an old man tells them of a magic cure, the Water of Life. Each in turn sets out to find the cure, but because the older two have unpure motives and are mean-spirited, they do not succeed. The youngest son, through kindness and perseverance, attains the magic fluid and the love of a princess who promises to wait a year for his return. Tricked by the older brothers who substitute bitter sea water in his goblet and present the Water of Life to their father as their own achievement, the youngest brother is banished. At the end of the year, the false brothers try to win the princess, but the youngest once again wins the prize through strength of character and purity of motive. This traditional tale with all the trappings of magical elements, romance, and underlying psychological truth, is brought to life by Rogasky's spirited telling and Hyman's lush illustrations. The richly detailed paintings bring the landscape of the folk tale vividly to life, from the sick king's dark bed chamber hung with tapestries and dimly lit by stained glass windows, to the lightness and cheer of the wedding celebration at the end. Particularly noteworthy is the artist's use of color and light to vary the mood. An exquisite blend of text and illustrations, this rendition will be appealing to older children as well as those in primary grades. Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, Conn.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I am a fan of fairy tales.
Natalie Norris
Well enough reminising, I'll get to the plot of the story.
R. M. Fisher
It is a well retold version of the story.
maggieb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Norris on June 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a fan of fairy tales. And I love to share my passion for a good story with my son. My 5 year-old loved this book from the first reading.
It is not a short read for a 5 year-old, but it held his attention again and again. It is one of his favorites.
I bought this book because I love the illustrations of Ms. Hyman. We have read "Bearskin" by Howard Pyle, "Little Red Ridinghood", and "The Fortune Teller", all illustrated by Ms. Hyman. Her colors are vibrant and exciting. It seems that every book Ms. Hyman is involved with includes a great story and a great story teller.
"The Water of Life" has it all, love, tests and trials, devotion, greed, and betrayal. It gives us, mother and son, lots to talk about. I recommend this book heartily.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Without hesitation I can assure you that "The Water of Life" is one of the most beautiful and intricate fairytales and picture books I have ever come across in my life. If you are a folk-lore scholar, a lover of beautiful illustrations, or a parent who believes that children are capable of absorbing the deeper side of fairytales rather than brainlessly watching the sugary-sweet rubbish that the T.V. spoonfeeds them today, then here is the picture book for you. Retold by Barbara Rogasky and illustrated by the fantastic Trina Schart Hyman, this story is a perfect blending of art and literature, and will stay with you for a very long time.
Don't believe me? Well, when I was no more than five years old my father got this book out of the library, but nine years later, all I could remember was a certain illustration that depicted the prince escaping from the enchanted courtyard. It was such a narrow escape as the gates closed on him, that his heel was torn off. This picture and the narrative stayed with me all those years, till I picked up another Trina Schart Hyman book, whose style of illustrations seemed vaugely familiar... After some typing on the public library's search engine "The Water of Life" was refound, and I stood in the library parking lot staring in amazement at the illustration that had stayed in my head for over nine years.
Well enough reminising, I'll get to the plot of the story. It is based on the Brother Grimm story, but unlike other retellings of their tales which "shear" certain components of their narratives, Barbara Rogasky keeps in all the details and subquests that make the story so intricate. If you've ever read Brothers Grimm you'll know that the pretty little stories you usually see nowadays are very unlike their original counterparts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By waldorf_curric VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is extraordinary in every way! The retelling of the story is superb in detail and pacing; the illustrations (by a now-favorite illustrator Trina Schart Hyman) are immaculate. I actually got this book simply on the strength of Ms. Hyman's recommendation; which is to say, if she chose to illustrate it, that's good enough for me. She has very high standards for her authors! And this book did not disappoint. Barbara Rogasky's writing is precise, beautiful, and rings true. I cannot recommend this one highly enough for your first grader. It will remain a favorite for many years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donna M Henderson on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am amazed that I never heard about this story until I was over 40 years old! This is an excellent book for teaching children the value of being loving and kind. I recently attended a talk on heroes at work and this book was mentioned. I am so glad that I purchased a copy because it will encourage me (and hopefully some friends that borrow it) that we can be heroes to those around us.
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