Monday, December 3, 2012

A Children's Series by Mark Helprin? Yes!

I'm super excited by a book I stumbled upon while browsing at my local Barnes and Noble store: a children's book by Mark Helprin with illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg. Now you understand my excitement. The book's title: A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy. How have I not come across this before?

Helprin is the author of the (adult) novel Winter's Tale,  an incredibly vivid and beautiful novel I read several years ago. You would have to live under a rock -- and not have ever come into contact with any child's room or children's book collection -- to convincingly say you don't know who Van Allsburg is. If you are peeking at this screen from under a rock here are a few clues: Jumangi, Zathura, The Z was Zapped: A Play in 26 Acts (one of my kids favorite alphabet books), and The Polar Express, among many others.

After doing a little research I learned that the book was commissioned and intended to be an interpretation of  Tchaikovsky's famous ballet similarly named Swan Lake. Apparently the two authors spent years working on this project, a three part series about the great themes of literature of course -- love, devotion, evil and greed. The first part of the trilogy was published back in 1989, with the second part released in 1996, and the final installment in 1997. I would have been in high school and college when these books first appeared, completing loads of mandatory readings so perhaps that explains why these books bypassed by universe without my knowing.

Of course I immediately purchased the book on Amazon after returning home and they will arrive in two days time...counting down the minutes! You'll very likely see a review in the not too distant future.



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