Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ K-Gr. 4. For this version of Andersen's fairy tale "The Nightingale," Pinkney moves the story's setting from China to Morocco, omits some of Andersen's wry commentary on court manners, and changes a few details to suit the new setting. The result is a pleasing version of the classic, fresh in its interpretation but true to the spirit of the original. When the king of Morocco hears that the greatest wonder in his kingdom is the nightingale, he demands to hear the bird sing and is moved to tears by the beauty of the nightingale's music. But soon he and his courtiers are distracted by a jewel-encrusted, mechanical bird, warbling a similar tune. The nightingale flies away from the court, and is then banished from the kingdom. Five years later the dying king cries out for her music, and the loyal nightingale returns and repays the king's tears by singing a song so powerful that it causes Death to loosen his hold. Each double-page spread is illuminated by artwork that glows with rich colors and teems with lively details. Done in graphite, gouache, and watercolor, the large, gracefully composed illustrations feature a profusion of patterns: graceful drapes of printed fabrics, churning ocean waves, and dappled, overlapping leaves. Within each picture, some colors are made richer and more vivid by their juxtaposition to other, more muted tones. A memorable rendition in a vividly imagined setting. ((Reviewed September 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Pinkney observes that the tale of the nightingale whose song enchanted a kingdom has a universal message that can be adapted to many locations. His selection of Morocco showcases the artist's lush style, but reinventing both setting and characters causes much of the original Andersen to be lost. This is an elegant creation, but one hopes that children will also know of the original. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

No story except perhaps "The Ugly Duckling" is more closely identified with Hans Christian Andersen than "The Nightingale." Thus authors or illustrators tinker with it at their peril. True, as Pinkney observes in his intelligently composed afterword, the tale of the nightingale whose song enchanted a kingdom until she's replaced by an artificial bird has a universal message that can be adapted to many locations. In this case, Morocco was selected, a setting sufficiently exotic to showcase the artist's lush style. Unfortu-nately, reinventing both setting and characters causes much of the original Andersen to be lost in the process. Some notable exchanges-such as the courtiers' use of "nightin" and "gale" as proper greetings-have been retained, but much of the sly humor that delights storytellers has been left out. Handsomely if fulsomely illustrated, Pinkney's book should be treated as an elegant creation, but one hopes that children will also know of the original. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Pinkney's (Goin' Someplace Special, 2001, etc.) gouache and watercolor illustrations have the stained radiance of sunlight through glass; even his figures appear lit from within. This vividly imagined retelling of Andersen's Nightingale places the story in Morocco rather than China, which gives Pinkney the opportunity for sumptuous detail and wonderful pattern-on-pattern textiles, abundant landscapes, elaborately carved furniture, and extravagantly jeweled objects. The story is true to its origins: the king hears of the beautiful song of the nightingale and commands her to sing for him; she does, and he is so enchanted he wants to keep her at court. She's allowed out only when tied to silken strings, but she continues to sing for him. Then a wind-up nightingale, bedizened in gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, is brought to the king. Even though it only sings one song over and over, the king is dazzled, and the live nightingale flies away. When the wind-up nightingale eventually runs down and the king becomes ill, death sits on his chest and cannot be chased away by song. But the real nightingale returns to sing so sweetly that even death is beguiled, and leaves the king alone. The nightingale promises to return regularly to the king, if he will but listen to his heart, and he is cured. The kitchen girl who first brought the nightingale to court is rewarded. Gentle lessons about freedom, possession, and the power of music are imparted as sweetly as the nightingale's song and as lavishly as a king's treasure. Exquisite bookmaking and Pinkney at his finest. (author's note) (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Pinkney (The Ugly Duckling) sets this retelling of Andersen's classic tale in Morocco instead of the original China, inspiring a score of lush illustrations and a fresh, piquant narrative. The tale of a king who learns humility from a kitchen girl and a "little, plain, simple" bird unfolds with familiar grace. Pinkney incorporates such atmospheric details as traditional Moroccan fare (mint tea and "pastries made with honey and almond milk") into his smooth prose. He also makes a few concessions to younger readers: when the nightingale's mechanical rival breaks, the emperor eventually turns to "the Great Fixer-of-All-Things" (instead of Andersen's watchmaker), and when the king slips into a decline, he introduces Death as "Old Man Death." He fills his watercolors, rendered in lines as loose and fluid as his characters' beautiful garments, with such exotic touches as palm trees, camels and a pet monkey, and evokes the country's gorgeously ornate architecture and ethnically diverse inhabitants. The sumptuous treatment will easily please Pinkney's many admirers. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

K-Gr 3-Pinkney has once again applied his considerable talents to the retelling of a traditional tale. He offers a unique presentation without compromising or straying from the original story of the nightingale's power. Like her song, the narration is smooth and flowing. Frequent dialogue adds to the drama and makes the story accessible to contemporary children. While the book will be an effective read-aloud, it is the illustrations that bring the tale to life. Pinkney has moved the story from its traditional Chinese setting to Morocco, and the paintings are a celebration of its cultural richness and ethnic diversity. Single pages and spreads are filled with the lush landscapes; grand architecture; and ornate textiles, silver, and pottery of the region. Traditional designs are also used to frame the text. Liberal use of color, ranging from earth tones to jewel hues, underscores the theme of natural versus manmade beauty. Young readers will enjoy looking for the playful monkey who appears in many of the scenes. A delightful melding of narration and illustration, this book will introduce a new generation to one of Andersen's tales.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.