________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 22 . . . . February 12, 2010


Here Comes the Bride.

Beatrice Masini. Illustrated by Anna Laura Cantone.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-898-9.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4

Every little girl would like to be a princess - or a ballerina - or a bride. In this story, the dreamer is no pink-complexioned, curly-haired little girl, but the tall, dark Filomena, a woman past her adolescent years. She is seamstress to all the brides in the town but someone who also has dreams of her own.

     Filomena has spent her life making other brides' wedding dresses and thinking about her future. As it turns out, she has an admirer, the mechanic next door. Rusty is a plain, constant man, who loves to ride his 'motocicleta', and would like to take Filomena along. Rusty proposes at last and..

...so it was that Filomena could start working on her own wedding

dress. She could put all her dreams into silk and satin and roses

and lace. She had stored so many ideas while she sewed for other

brides. Maybe too many.

     Unfortunately, she takes the dress over the top, adding every embellishment in her repertoire. When Rusty sees her at the church, a mountain of veiling and ribbons, he is so overwhelmed he flees on his scooter. Filomena anxiously pursues Rusty, losing parts of her bridal finery as she goes. When she finally catches up to him, dressed only in a plain silk shift, the moral of the story - quite the antithesis of all those crazy wedding programmes on television - is expressed on the second to the last page:

"I'm sorry! All I was thinking about was my dress, and not you."

[and from Rusty]

"I'm sorry too. I was scared and forgot that under all that material,

there you were."

internal art

     The author and illustrator of the book are both Milanese, both veterans of the picture book world. Cantone's list of work includes the Zara Zebra series, My Favorite Things (According to Alberta) and several folktales. Collage elements in the pictures include captions and labels in both English and Italian, and it is not possible to tell if they all belong to the original book. The elongated human figures with wide eyes are somewhat reminiscent of Ronald Searle's illustrations. Backgrounds are layered and full of little details, and show a quirky sense of perspective. The text moves along quickly with enough description to set the mood of the story but no wasted words.

     The provenance of this book is a bit confusing. Originally published as Una Sposa Buffa, Buffissima, Bellissima in Italy in 2002, it appears as The Wedding Mess on the Watson Guptill list in 2003. Here, the name of Lenny Hort is included as ''adapter" of the text, but with top billing. There are no translator or adapters credited on this 2010 Tundra edition. The texts of the two English editions are definitely quite different. Both are sprightly, but, whereas the American edition is informal and jocular in tone, the Tundra translation has more of a folkloric cadence.

     This non-traditional love story has a place in larger picture book collections and could be used in discussions about how perception of things physical and their reality do not always match.


Ellen Heaney is Head of Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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