This retelling of Aladdin captures the full feel of this well-loved tale. Aladdin is a poor peasant, until he buys a magic lamp. When the lamp is rubbed vigorously, a genie appears to grant any wish.
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Grade 2-6–Pullman, known for his ability to create worlds full of drama, excitement, and dark battles of good versus evil, employs a mild tone in this retelling of the classic tale of the mischievous boy who becomes heir to a magical lamp. He sets the story in its original location–China–and his retelling is fast-paced and lively. Skillful use of colorful contemporary language maintains the tale's mystical, long-ago quality. Descriptions of the boy's most violent encounters are cushioned (the evil Sorcerer's beheading) or omitted (scenes with the Sorcerer's vengeful brother, Aladdin's efforts to stop the princess's marriage to the Vizier's son). The result is an accessible story that can be introduced to younger children. Williams's decorative, jewel-toned illustrations are competent and engaging, but fail to express the drama and excitement of Aladdin's adventures. Eric A. Kimmel's The Tale of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (Holiday House, 1992) is an appealing picture-book retelling. Marianna Mayer's striking version (S & S, 1985), illustrated by Gerald McDermott, focuses on Aladdin's attempts to win the princess. Andrew Lang's version (Puffin, 1983) is still the gold standard as the most complete and compelling account of Aladdin's life.–Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
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Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. An author more commonly known for weaving tales of startling originality here makes his mark on an old standard. Fulfilling expectations of extravagance set up by the silver-gilded book jacket, Pullman's spin on Aladdin's serendipitous adventures is satisfyingly festooned with exotic vocabulary and details. He also enlivens the telling with knowing wit, reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen's; children will delight in the zoo of wonders where identification placards are written "in outlandish tongues like English." Williams' numerous paintings follow Pullman's lead, with a bazaar of burnished colors and dramatic, imagination-tickling scenes. Unfortunately, Pullman neglects to discuss specific sources or the tale's controversial origins, and much of the treatment, particularly the minaret- and camel-laden settings in Williams' artwork, stands in opposition to Pullman's introductory remarks that locate Aladdin in China. Nonetheless, this big, lavish volume is undeniably enticing, and it will help lessen the grip of Disney's 1992 movie--the release of which slowed new picture-book retellings of Aladdin's story to a trickle. Jennifer Mattson
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Book Description Scholastic, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. David Wyatt (illustrator). book. Bookseller Inventory # M0590541196