The Faithful Friend

 

Cover Art from: goodreads.com
Cover Art from: goodreads.com

Souci, R., & Pinkney, J. (1995). The faithful friend. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

ISBN: 0-02-786131-7

This is a choice that will be more appealing to younger tweens having a layout like a picture book however it also features quite a bit of text making better suited to older elementary school children. The story itself is interesting as it is a French West Indies story that can be traced back to an old Grimm Brothers tale. There is a page at the very end of the book that traces the history of the story and explains why this specific version of the story was used for this book. The artwork for this story is very beautiful and dramatic and gives life to the beautiful island setting of this story of two friends. Clement falls in love with the beautiful Pauline and asks his friend Hippolyte to come with him to ask her uncle for her hand in marriage. The uncle refuses but Pauline leaves with the boys anyway having fallen in love Clement. The three know that the uncle is a powerful quimboiseur, or wizard but believe they are safe on their journey home. They sleep under some trees that night and Hippolyte hears a group of zombies cast a spell to poison the lovers when they drink from a stream and if anyone tells of the curse they will turn to stone. He manages to convince his friends the water in the stream is no good and saves them but the zombies cast another curse that will take place when they eat mangos. Once again he saves his friends but the zombies enact a third curse that will kill them on their wedding night. He waits until the night of their wedding then sneaks into their bedroom before they arrive killing a cursed snake. Once he does the snake vanishes leaving him standing alone in the newlywed’s room with a sword. The evil uncle convinces them that he was there to kill them out of jealousy so he tells the whole story and is turned to stone. A mysterious man says he can reverse the curse if Clement is willing to take it on himself, Clement agrees and the man goes to turn him to stone but at the last second touches the evil uncle instead turning him to stone and allowing the friends to live together in peace.

This would be a great book to add to a list of folk and fairy tales for tweens. It would also be interesting to have a library event where the librarian reads a few different versions of the story to tweens so they can see how tales change over time and when they are introduced in new places. This is also particularly interesting due to the popularity of stories being retold for tween and teen novels. For an event like this tweens could even be provided with the materials to write down their own versions of a famous tale.

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The Faithful Friend

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