Wild Swan

adapted by Xanthe Gresham Knight. illus. by Charlotte Gastaut. 48p. Barefoot. Mar. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781782853466.
Gr 5–7—In this retelling of the Andersen tale, key plot points are changed, ultimately making this a feminist story of hope. Eliza is the youngest of 12 and the only daughter of the king, a widower. When she is five, Eliza's father marries a healer, who is almost as busy as he is, dealing with the plague that is sweeping the land. Her stepmother is surrounded by books and herbs and is often found digging in the garden. While the king thinks that studying should be enough for the brothers to learn how to rule, the stepmother thinks the boys should see the world and be part of it to properly rule one day. She casts a spell that turns the brothers into swans so they can fly away from the plague and see the world. To protect Eliza, her stepmother sends her to foster with Alma and Luca in a village the plague has not yet reached. Eventually, her stepmother sends a message to Eliza telling her that she has indeed found a cure for the plague, but has caught it herself. It is now up to Eliza to break the spell that enchants her brothers. Lush illustrations add moodiness and feeling to the story. The palette alternates between rich, dark blues and small black-and-white pieces with gold foil lending a sumptuous touch.
VERDICT A gorgeously designed package housing a fresh, feminist retelling of a classic.

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