Paradise Sands: A Story of Enchantment

Candlewick Studio. Nov. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536212822.
Gr 4-6–The story begins with a six-line poem under a small, rectangular image of a tough, leafless tree with white blossoms. The slightly overexposed, photorealistic style continues throughout, as a girl and her three older brothers drive through a desert landscape. The four leave the car to pick flowers for their mother, but the boys run off, reciting lines from the poem, leaving the girl to follow them into a silent, massive building, where they unwisely drink, eat, and are therefore trapped. The girl, cleverly, does not eat or drink, and makes a deal with a huge lion called the Teller to get her brothers back. She keeps her bargain, and the four reach their mother, who seems to be staying in a medical facility (bed with wheels, no decorations); from the girl, the mother intuits what happened on their trip. The whole story has the haunting, ominous feel of an old, dark fairy tale; in the illustrations, which have a bleached quality, the human characters are often dwarfed by the landscape, buildings, or animals.
VERDICT This spare, atmospheric book may require some book-talking to find an audience, although it could be used in a unit on fairy tales and legends.

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