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SWAN LAKE by Katy Flint


From the Story Orchestra series

by Katy Flint ; illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7112-4150-3
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

A look-and-listen (albeit briefly) adaptation of a favorite ballet story.

A diverse cast of dancers fills the pages of this very basic retelling of a Russian classic of the ballet repertoire. The spread-spanning illustrations are busily filled with lakeside swans sporting fancy, feathery costumes along with many trees, deer, foxes, and rabbits. The palace is pink and glittery and replete with chandeliers, curtains, and fancily costumed guests. There, Odile, malevolent-looking daughter of the evil sorcerer Rothbart, dances with Prince Siegfried and tricks him into believing that she is the lovely Odette, the enchanted swan, who looks bereft. The audience-pleasing national dances of Act 3 are not mentioned in the text nor depicted in the illustrations. Stagings of Swan Lake have always had various endings, some happy and some not so, as Prince Siegfried and his beloved Odette are united only in the afterlife. This version has them living happily ever after on Earth. The gimmick of this title is the 10 brief (10 seconds or so) sound clips that barely hint at the very beautiful score. Adults taking children to a performance may find this useful as an introduction, but listening to a suite of the music would be a better idea. The refreshingly inclusive casting—Siegfried, Odette, and Odile have brown skin, and there are many courtiers of color—does not mitigate the book’s flaws.

Swans abound and good defeats evil in a simplified retelling.

(author’s note, glossary) (Picture book/novelty. 4-7)