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The Enchanted Wood: An Original Fairy Tale Library Binding – August 1, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
Written in plain yet stately prose, this is an original fairy tale about three brothers and their quest. The aging king has promised his throne to the son who can deliver the kingdom from a terrible drought by discovering the Heart of the World, which lies within the dangerous Enchanted Wood. Each of the brothers sets out on the journey, but--in true fairy tale style--only the youngest son is pure enough of heart not to swerve from his noble purpose. Is it love that brings the young prince to the Heart of the World and thus to the end of his kingdom's troubles, or is it at last finding the magical place? The climactic scene where he arrives at his destination is not especially dramatic, yet this engaging story does bring magic, adventure and a hint of romance to young readers. As in Sanderson's The Twelve Dancing Princesses , her characters have oddly contemporary faces. That minor cavil aside, her art is exquisite--restrained in palette, naturalistic in style and rich in tone. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The pattern is traditional, the outcome shaped by current convention: three brothers quest for the ``Heart of the World''; only the third is generous along the way and also sticks to the appointed path despite temptation, thus winning his father's throne and the affection of the girl whose help he has accepted. As in Wisniewski's The Warrior and the Wise Man (1989), the other brothers concede graciously. The telling is smooth, but no more inspired than the story; the meticulous paintings depict a medieval fantasy world in loving detail, but are not especially imaginative. A sumptuous-looking effort that disappoints on closer examination. (Picture book. 4-10) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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That said, this book is an interesting mix of truly beautiful paintings (its a pity there isn't a picture of the cover on this webpage, as that always puts people off buying products) and a traditional, predicable story.
After a beautiful kingdom becomes plauged by a drought the king sends his three sons Edmund, Owen and Galen to find the Heart of the World that lies within the Enchanted Wood to restore the kingdom - in finding it their purpose will be magically achieved. Successively the three head off, and individually come to a cottage on the verge of the forest, where an old woman warns them not to wander off the path no matter what. Well, you don't really need to be told any more to know exactly what happens. The two older sons succumb to temptation, while the youngest remains true to his quest and succeeds, inheriting the kingdom and marrying the old woman's beautiful daughter Rose who accompanied him through the forest (for both mother and daughter had been unwilling gatekeepers of the forest, though eventually liberated by Galen's nobility). It is an old formula, encompassing all the cliches of a beautiful maiden, the threefold trial, the cursed kingdom, the virtueous youngest brother... Even though children will certainly not be bothered by this, seasoned fairytale lovers will know the tune oh-so-well and be frustrated at its predictability. Thus the title 'original fairytale' is somewhat misused.
On the other end of the scale however, some points of the story are quite confusing. It is unclear why finding the Heart of the World restores the land to its former glory, nor how it actually manages to achieve this. Furthermore, though Edmund and Owen's submissions to temptation (respectively to hunt a white stag and engage in battle with a Black Knight) are indeed vices, we are never really certain whether Galen did the right thing in turning his back on his own brothers when witnessing them in peril. Lastly, the meaning of the silver key that Rose drops into the Heart's waters and the 'ceremony' that she performs is unclear in its meaning and point.
However, *please* don't let my grousing over this feature stop you from finding this book as they pale in comparison to Sanderson's exquisite oil paintings, and are in fact (in my opinion) her best. In no other book of hers has she reached the level of detail and realism that she does in 'The Enchanted Wood'. She captures motion perfectly, her animals (deer and horses) are beautiful, and all little girls be satisfied that the heroine Rose is stunning. The best part however is Sanderson's illustrations of the forest - their misty, mysterious, shrouded depths are gorgeously created, from their forbidding entrance at the iron gates to the Heart of the World - three treetrunks intertwinging to make one.
The illustrations more than make up for the story and make this book a must-have for all lovers of great art, children's books, fairytales or beauty in general.
It is unfortunate that it has such a well-used title, as I know of two other books by the same name (Enid Blyton's, and another 'Enchanted Wood' by the Australian writer and illustrator Shirley Barber) but the illustrations *are* worth the effort to tracks this book down, either from Amazon or your library.
I cannot say enough about Amazon's used book program. I have bought several through it and they have all been in excellent condition and so very affordable.
There are many good qualities about The Enchanted Wood and here are a few. The genres of The Enchanted Wood are historical fiction and fantasy. One good thing that Ruth Sanderson did is that her themes are very easy to find, like her theme," Don't be distracted in life by things that you want, just be glad with the things you have." The main character is Galen the king's youngest son and he wants to prove himself to everbody by finding the heart of the world. This book's genre is similar to Cinderella's genre because both books are historical fiction and fantasy.
The Enchanted Wood would be a good book for younger kids because ruth Sanderson wrote the book like it was for little kids. I believe that Ruth Sanderson should use more forceful language. The Enchanted Wood's theme is very easy to find where other books have it harder to find the theme. I think that this is a good book because it has a great theme. Remember, if you like medieval times then you will love The Enchanted Wood.