________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 6 . . . . November 14, 1997

cover The Parrot.

Laszlo and Raffaella Gal.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books,1997.
32pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88899-287-4.

Subject Headings:

Kindergarten and up / Ages 5 and up.
Review by Val Nielsen.

**** /4

image A stunning new picture book, The Parrot, written and illustrated by Lazslo Gal and his daughter Raffaella, appears to prove the old adage that the apple never falls far from the tree. The father-daughter team has retold and adapted a classic Italian folktale which tells the story of a beautiful merchant's daughter who is coveted by a wicked old man and loved by a neigbouring young prince. When the nasty neighbour makes plans to kidnap the maiden while her father is away, the prince, desperate to protect his love, finds a sorceress to turn him into a parrot. Into the merchant's house he flies and immediately begins to amuse the maiden with stories. Not surprisingly, the more stories he tells, the more she wants to hear. Finally the parrot says, "If you promise not to interrupt, I will tell you the most marvelous tale in the world. But you must not let anyone or anything stop my story...or you will never know the ending." Of course, the young woman is hooked, and the parrot begins a story with many connections to his listener's own situation. Each time the parrot reaches an exciting moment in his story, there is an interruption; but so wildly impatient is the maiden to hear the end of the story, that she ignores the would-be kidnappers as they knock and bang at the door. Before she knows it, and just as the parrot is about to run out of ideas, her father returns, and she is safe once again. Two clever devices help the reader keep the story and the story-within-a-story straight. Each transition between the outer and inner story is signified by a small gold feather on the page. To further help the reader, richly-detailed full-colour paintings are used to illustrate the parrot's story while the listening maiden is depicted in black and white. On each page, she is superimposed on a background of smaller characters - players in the drama to which she is so avidly listening. Using dark shades to create a mood of insidious evil, the artists have produced their sumptuous paintings in soft yet bold colours. The two stories are told in simple but elegant folk tale language with just the right amount of suspense on each page to keep young listeners eager to see what happens next. As with all the best picture books, there is no need to apply an upper age limit to the Gals' book. If you are keeping a "too good to miss" list of picture books, The Parrot should be on it!

Highly recommended.

Valerie Nielsen is teacher-librarain at Bairdmore School in the Fort Garry School Division, Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364