The Song of Delphine

illus. by Kenneth Kraegel. 40p. Candlewick. Apr. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763670016. LC 2014945455.
PreS-Gr 1—Text and watercolor and ink illustrations combine wonderfully in this story of an orphan who serves Queen Theodora in her palace on the savannah. Life is hard for Delphine, and she sings to boost her spirits. When Theodora's niece arrives, Delphine's delight at having someone her own age in the palace is short-lived, for Beatrice is deliberately cruel and blames Delphine for her own misdeeds. Delphine's sad song one evening is heard by 12 giraffes, who carry her across the savannah. When they return her to the palace, however, they mistakenly deliver her to Beatrice's room, where a picture of the princess's deceased mother provides a clue to the girl's behavior. Comforted by Delphine's song, Beatrice speaks to the queen, who then makes Delphine her official singer. As for Delphine and Beatrice, well, those giraffes figure prominently in their future nights together. While the text is fairly brief, much of the story is contained in the illustrations. The giraffes are full of personality, and children will enjoy hunting for them and their companions, from the stunning endpapers done in black ink strokes and dots to the pages within. The scene of Beatrice's arrival trailed by a long line of servants carrying her belongings provides a comical forecast of the girl's haughty personality. The varied illustrations include framed text and scenes, spot art, and the vast savannah depicted on spreads — all meticulously rendered. Don't miss this story of the power of music to bring joy and comfort even in trying times.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT
Delphine, a lonely servant girl in a palace on the savanna, sings to keep her spirits up. When the queen's young niece cruelly mistreats her, Delphine sings, "letting the loneliness and fear pour out of her soul." Her songs turn out to be her salvation, and all too-conveniently ends well. Watercolor and ink illustrations are equally adept at conveying emotion and depicting the vastness of the landscape.

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