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David Day

Toronto, Doubleday, 1989. 32pp, cloth, $14.95
ISBN 0-385-25233-1. CIP

Grades 3 and up/Ages 8 and up
Reviewed by David H. Elias.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

David Day offers a retelling of an old Irish folktale in which treachery, tragedy, and triumph are set against a backdrop of myth and magic. Four children of exceptional beauty and talent are changed into swans by a jealous stepmother. It is not until centuries later that they are finally redeemed.

It's the kind of story that youngsters will appreciate for reasons that adults have long since forgotten. It is a tale that transcends the modern popular childrens' stories, which, all too often, involve minimal stretches of the imagi­nation.

Children, in spite of the cynicism we drown them in every day, want to believe in magic. This story links them to youngsters that lived centuries ago and believed, as they do, in the power of love.

The story might well stand on its own, but it is infinitely enhanced by the wonderful illustrations by Richard Evans. They are exceptionally artistic and expressive, reflecting the ancient and mythical quality of the story that is unfolding.

One illustration, in particular, is worth the price of the book. It shows four swans on a sea of ice and snow. With muted colours and graceful lines, this drawing captures the ethereal nature of the swan children. The illustrations almost seem to flow out of the words, in a way that lends serenity to the story. I highly recommend this book.

David H. Elias, Winnipeg, Man.
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