Kindergarten-Grade 4 Familiar folktale elements combine in an unfamiliar tale of Latvian origin. A farm couple yearns for a child; they are rewarded by the Forest Mother with an infant in a basket who is "covered with prickles, like a hedgehog." Years later, when the king is lost in the woods, the hedgehog boy trades directions home for his daughter's hand in marriage. On their wedding night, the princess burns the hedgehog coat. Her husband becomes sick and almost dies, but with the princess' loving care he heals and becomes a handsome normal man. The character of the bumbling, inept king particularly comes to life, and the entire story is deftly, clearly told with humorous, flowing prose. It may be too long for a read-aloud, however. Plume incorporates traditional Latvian colors and design in her illustrations, which are aglow with yellows, reds, blues and greens. Bordered full-page, lavish artwork alternates with smaller rectangular and circular illustrations. The overall design of the book is pleasing although there are a few questionable blank spaces. A quibble: though the story may be true to Langton's sources, the transformation from hedgehog boy to real boy is confusing. Children may want to know what exactly takes place. Does he take his coat off every night? Is there some kind of enchantment at work here? Is it love that saves him? Is it fair that the princess is essentially rewarded for her impulsive act of burning the coat? In spite of this lack of clarity, the book is still a charming and welcome addition to folktale collections. The score to a Latvian song, a daina, is included. Leda Schubert, formerly at Kellogg Hubbard Library, Montpelier, Vt.
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Book Description Harpercollins, 1985. Library Binding. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060236973