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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beautiful Griselda, a story by Isol. Translated by Elisa Amado. Groundwood, 2011. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"Maybe because she was bored, or maybe because they were at hand,         Griselda soon began a head collection. She varnished the crowned heads herself and classified them by region and hair color. Then she exhibited them like trophies in her golden chamber."                                              

I have read and very much enjoyed the other books that Isol has written or illustrated, It's Useful to Have a Duck, Petit, the Monster, Doggy Slippers. So, I was looking forward to seeing this new book. I am not, in the least, disappointed. She brings the same humor, thoughtfulness and talent to creating this story of a young and beautiful princess, mostly besotted with herself.

She is quite lovely and everyone who sees her thinks so, too. In fact, they lose their heads over her beauty...literally. As the male heads roll, she is amused and decides to begin a collection. As the collection grows, so does her determination to keep herself looking beautiful enough to keep it happening. She bathes in cold spring water, drinks sour fruit juices, removes stray hair, sings daily, and partakes of her exercises in crystal shoes. She loves the mirror!

Of course, people don't really appreciate her, they become afraid to even look at her for fear of sweeping disaster. Soon, they are avoiding her totally...slamming doors in her face, refusing to have her as their guest at parties. Her lack of a social life leads to one to talk to, no parties to plan, no grand soirees to attend. She searches for, and finds, a prince with impaired vision in hopes that they might find lasting happiness. It does not last. But, a baby results...and a surprise ending!

There is a lesson here...for each and every one of us. Funny, different and filled with pen and ink drawings, captured in tones of blue, orange and black, this is a story that will entertain fairy tale aficionados and perhaps invite new ones.

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