Reviews for Fisherman and His Wife

Booklist Reviews 2008 April #1
As she has with previous books, The Princess and the Pea and The Twelve Dancing Princesses (both, 2007), Isadora takes stories from the Brothers Grimm and adapts them for a generically African setting. The fisherman frees a flounder and gets a wish. Then his wife makes him continually up the ante: her new hut must become a castle; then she wants to be king, emperor, pope! The highly patterned collage pictures don't really capture the scope of her ambitions, which seem more European than African, but their shaped and sculptured beauty is arresting. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #2
As she did with the Grimms' Twelve Dancing Princesses (rev. 9/07), Isadora uses collages of paint-striated paper in tropical colors, plus occasional scraps of fabric, to give this familiar tale a generic African setting. The fisherman and his greedy wife live in a pigsty near the sea; the wife's aggrandizements follow the usual pattern from mansion to castle to high office, culminating in her becoming pope -- only to be reduced to her original state when "she wants to be God." Compared to other retellings, dialogue here is minimal, suiting the story to listeners and beginning readers: "'I don't want to be king,' the fisherman said. 'Then I will be. Go tell the flounder I must be king,' the wife said." While the ironical humor of such excellent retellers as Wanda G‡g and Lore Segal is absent here, Isadora magnifies the drama in illustrations where the fisherman's anxiety escalates along with his wife's authority and an increasingly angry sea crowds the white space. It's a handsome book, and the tale sits comfortably in its new setting. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 January #1
Continuing her career through the classic fairy tales, Isadora turns to the familiar story of overweening greed for her latest adaptation. As with Princess and the Pea (2007) and Twelve Dancing Princesses (2007), she relocates the European tale to an unspecified African shore, employing her Eric Carle-like collage technique of placing broadly painted cut-outs against a white background. As the story runs its course, the wife becoming greedier and greedier and the flounder waxing angrier and angrier, the painted ocean modulates from turquoise to gray and stormy, taking over the page in nicely terrifying fashion as jagged blades of rain stab its surface. This tale adapts to its new setting somewhat better than her previous efforts, perhaps because of the universality of the themes, perhaps because the tight focus on the two characters allows them to develop fully. As the wife declares that being Pope isn't good enough--she wants to become God--she and her husband appear silhouetted against a rising African sun, God's creation surrounding her--a nicely ironic image beautifully executed, making this offering fresh and welcome. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 January #4
Rachel Isadora uses her trademark collage-style illustrations to transport another classic fairy tale to an African setting in The Fisherman and His Wife. (Putnam, $16.99 32p ages 4-up ISBN 9780-399-24771-2; Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 March

K-Gr 4-- As she did with The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Princess and the Pea (both Putnam, 2007), Isadora has taken a tale of European origin and set it against a generic African backdrop, with no country, tribe, or culture specified. This is problematic as such treatment does nothing to enlighten children about the rich diversity that exists on this vast continent. This is a separate issue from the quality of Isadora's illustrations, which meet her usual standards. Using oil paints, printed paper, and palette paper, she has created dramatic, textured collages, intense in color and rich in detail. The spreads reflect an increasingly dark and angry sea as the wife's demands become more and more outrageous. The text is spare and minimal, with none of the lyrical language found in other retellings, such as Randall Jarrell's classic (Farrar, 1980; o.p.) with breathtaking illustrations by Margot Zemach. Younger readers may find this version more accessible, but all of the drama is in the art.--Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

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