The Enchanted Nightingale: The Classic Grimm's Tale of Jorinda and Joringel

illus. by Bernadette Watts. 32p. Floris. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781782504368.
K-Gr 4—Two young lovers go for an evening stroll and venture too close to the castle of a witch with a nasty reputation. True to the rumors, the witch appears, promptly freezes Joringel and turns Jorinda into a nightingale. Joringel begs for Jorinda's freedom and is refused. With a pragmatism that does him credit, lovesick Joringel gets a job. Working as a shepherd, he dreams that he possesses a magical flower to free victims of the witch's enchantments. Finding it days later, Joringel fearfully travels to the witch's castle and uses the protected status granted by the flower to free Jorinda. In what is perhaps the largest quantity of happily ever afters in any single tale, the story ends with 701 weddings, when all the girls who had been turned into birds by the witch are freed and reunited with their sweethearts. The text is clear, matter-of-fact, and frank. A cloud of fatalism and the inevitability of tragedy to come hangs over the story and is at odds with the character of Joringel, who, while practical, remains hopeful. Watts's ink-and-watercolor illustrations are at once lush and delicate. Most paintings are glowing, painstakingly colored nature scenes. Her soft illustrations are feathery, textured, layered, and strike just the right note between hope and despair to complement the narrative.
VERDICT This tale has been skillfully illustrated with great imagination and is a welcome addition to fairy tale collections as an introduction to two lesser-known Grimm characters.

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