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Meghan Collins. Illustrated by Laszlo Gal.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 1985.
38pp., paperboud boards, $12.95.
ISBN 0-88899-039-1. CIP.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10

Reviewed by Fran Newman.

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

If one were to choose a type of tree to make magic with in the form of fairy-tale folk, then the willow tree is perfect for its grace and symmetry and beauty. Meghan Collins has chosen to use the willow people as a focus for her new love story / fairy tale. Denis, a young farm boy, falls in love with a maiden he meets during a Midsummer Eve celebration. The course of true love can never run smoothly, and as in all such tales, Denis must prove himself. He must undertake an underwater fight (from which many young men such as he have not returned) but he has the assistance of his chosen one and manages to pass the test. Then he must be patient and wait until the autumn, when next she will appear. The tale then takes on mythological qualities as the young girl becomes like Persephone and must be away from her new husband for half of the year. In jealousy and despair at the loss of her, he very nearly chops down her tree, the other half of her very self, thereby destroying her altogether. Just in time he realizes that he must not, and that he must have the fortitude to wait until the next autumn for her return.

The story is well-enough conceived, and well-enough told, but I must admit to missing the incredible flow of the language of Janet Lunn. There is little here that rolls on the tongue or remains in the memory. Rather it is Laszlo Gal's evocative, misty paintings that will become a part of our memory and cause our pride in his Canadian identity. How splendidly each page of illustration brings alive the story. It would be for the art alone that I would say this book must become a part of every Canadian library.

Fran Newman, Trenton, ON.
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