Synopses & Reviews
Young Willa Rose Mariah McVale is bold, clever, and courageous. That's why she's brave enough to ask Old Windy, the north wind, to return the cornmeal that he stole. Old Windy might be mischievous, but he is also honorable. He gives Willa a magic hanky in place of the missing cornmeal. But Willa's troubles aren't over. Soon she meets an innkeeper who steals the magic hanky. Thinking that the north wind has tricked her, Willa returns to his great stone house and gives him a piece of her mind. Again, the north wind presents her with a gift, and again the innkeeper steals it. How Willa finally outwits the innkeeper -- with a little help from Old Windy -- makes for a delicious, satisfying tale spun by a master storyteller.
"An old fairy tale undergoes a magical transformation in Del Negro's (Lucy Dove) capable hands. According to the old Norse tale, a boy receives charmed gifts from the North Wind, and loses them just as quickly to a scoundrel landlord. Del Negro's version stars a girl named Willa Rose Mariah McVale and adds depth and spirit to the entire cast, while Solomon's (Clever Beatrice) swirly-whirly watercolors have the effect of letting spring light into a musty attic. Willa gets magic gifts from the North Wind, too, but the real charm of this version is derived from her spirited exchanges with the pale, chilly-looking Old Windy. Solomon paints Willa with a red peasant dress and long fiery braids; she looks like a cousin of Pippi Longstocking, and sounds like her, too: 'Don't yell at me, you no-good, no-account thieving windbag!' she shouts. 'I want the cornmeal you stole, so give it back.' Old Windy replies in blue upper-case letters, almost poignantly (and with the ability to make a good pun, as well). 'Look, little girl,' he says, 'I am a fair wind.' Willa convinces Old Windy to keep helping her until she can punish the true thief (gently) and impress her skeptical sister, to boot. Solomon's mixed-media artwork layers watercolors that give the compositions movement, and readers can pore over details in the collage of flower and fauna, elfin and woodland creatures. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)