Selected by the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education as one of the 2004 Best Children’s Books for the Year
In the grand tradition of fairy tales, a king becomes lost in an enchanted forest. In order to save himself, he strikes a dreadful bargain with an elderly witch: he will marry her daughter if only she will show him the way home.
The king fears that the daughter too is a witch, so he hides his eleven sons and his only daughter from the woman he has pledged to marry.
After his marriage, his new queen discovers the children and casts a spell, turning the princes into swans. But she doesn’t know there is a twelfth child, a princess. It is up to the princess to find her brothers and break the spell that binds them.
Renowned storyteller Ken Setterington has borrowed from European folk traditions, including the Brothers Grimm, to tell a timeless story.
Nelly and Ernst Hofer’s exquisite paper cut art make this a beautiful book for reading and for gift giving.
“[Ken Setterington] uses a prose style that is graceful and appropriate…. Elegant, amazingly intricate full-page [scherenschnitt] illustrations grace the beginning of each of the six parts of the tale…. [A] good choice for older readers, and an excellent way to introduce them to this unique art form.”
–School Library Journal
“The clear storytelling style blends the contemporary…with the traditional…. Setterington adds romance and suspense…. The small, intricate, black-and-white illustrations, delicate and formal in design, fit well with the story…. [A] fascinating chapter at the back fills in facts about the history and tradition of cut-paper art.”
“…an elegant retelling full of drama…. The Hofers…intricate, artful black-and-white cut-paper illustrations (Scherenschnitte) are a perfect match for this tale…”
–The Globe and Mail
“Ken Setterington does an outstanding job of captivating his readers…. Nelly and Ernst Hofer’s black and white paper cuts…create a magical presence of their own…. This is a superb work of art and will undoubtedly engage listeners of every age! Highly Recommended.”
“With flowing and precise narrative, the storytelling talent of Ken Setterington…is a gift to the reader. From the first line…this story captivates and absorbs…beautifully written…”
“Once again…Ken Setterington demonstrates his storytelling savvy…. And once again, the scherenschnitt…illustrations by Nelly and Ernst Hofer exhibit their dazzling mastery of this ancient folk art…. The full page and border illustrations…have the narrative richness of medieval tapestry, and the delicacy and intimacy of lacework. They are so meticulously detailed that the characters’ emotions are revealed in body posture, and the scenes have a vibrant sense of movement. The artwork thoroughly enchants the eye and stirs the imagination.”
–Quill & Quire
Ken Setterington is an international authority on children’s books. He was named the first Children and Youth Advocate for Library Services by the Toronto Public Library and won a prestigious Toronto Arts Award for Writing and Publishing for his promotion of children’s literature. Most recently he co-wrote A Guide to Canadian Children’s Books. His first book for children was The Snow Queen, also illustrated by the Hofers.
Nelly and Ernst Hofer learned the folk art of scherenschnitt in their native Switzerland. Their first book was the award-winning Silent Night: The Song From Heaven by Linda Granfield. Nelly and Ernst Hofer live on a farm in Perth County, Ontario.
Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!