by Elizabeth Enright, first published 1963
“All the other Tatrajanni …had glittering white hair like snow crystals, and the eyes of every one of them, without exception, were the color of light shining through ice: a cool greenish hue.”
This children’s book may have been one of the last written by Enright, author of many other books such as the Melendy Quartet series. And this book also steps out of the mold of her other children’s books. It is pure fantasy, with an imaginary land, animals, and people, and a giant or two thrown in. It takes a little effort to get used to all the nonsense words in the story. However, as a reading teacher, I love nonsense words, since it really challenges children to read phonetically!
Once you get into the rhythm of this children’s book, the story is lovely, about a brave kingdom of small people who rescue the princess from a greedy giant. The plot is simple. What makes the book work is the lyrical sound of the language, and some very wise characters, especially Tanda-nan, the old wise woman, and Tatsinda, the heroine.
The original version of this children’s book is out of print, but the version I read, published in 1991 has lovely illustrations to go with it, though it hardly qualifies as an illustrated book, since it is very text heavy.
I tend to dislike fantasies, because I don’t like to work so hard to read names and places, but this book won my heart, and I could easily see children enjoying the process of imagining new kinds of animals and lands. The writing is excellent as well.