Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan

Fall 2009 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Richard Egielski
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 0439930502
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Who knew that adults could act so silly? Kids will delight in discovering that grown-ups--including famous ones--can sulk, and pout, and generally act like churlish children. After the merest bit of scene-setting (in Victorian England, "Everything was grim. Everything was dark...") Winter introduces the topsy-turvy world of opera: bright floodlights, brilliant sets and colorful costumes...not to mention "battery-operated wings." Egielski's illustrations go hand-in-hand with the text, transitioning from dank gas lamp-lit streets to the red-curtained proscenium of a stage and thence to period-perfect interior cutaways of the two maestros' homes. Readers are soon treated to a shouting match ("Yes, they are! " "No, they aren't! "Yes they are!" NO, THEY AREN'T!!!") when Mr. Sullivan declares that Mr. Gilbert's plots are "ridiculous" and promptly refuses to write another note. As time passes, however, the two friends begin to miss each other and when Gilbert, inspired by the sight of a Japanese fair in the streets of London, produces yet another libretto, he can't wait to share it with his former partner. Fortunately for them and for the world, old animosities are set aside and the ensuing truce results in what will become their most famous collaborative work,The Mikado. Egielski intersperses his drawings-which resemble carefully crafted stage sets-with stylized suns and moons whose faces mimic the emotional roller coaster of the two protagonists/antagonists. Like Gilbert & Sullivan audiences through the ages, young readers will shout: Bravo! Bravissimo!! WELL DONE!!!
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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