Sunday, November 4, 2018

Review of "The Six Swans," by Robert D. San Souci

Review of
The Six Swans, by Robert D. San Souci ISBN 0671658484

Five out of five stars
 This fairy tale uses three themes very common in such tales, the mysterious beautiful woman that enthralls the king, the evil stepmother and the evil, manipulative witch. It opens with an elderly widowed king with seven children, one daughter and six sons, hunting alone in the forest. When the king gets hopelessly lost, he encounters a grizzled old woman that offers to help him if he will vow to marry her beautiful, but oddly mysterious daughter. With no other way out of his dilemma, the king agrees to make her his queen.
 The daughter is of course an evil witch and casts a spell that turns the six brothers into beautiful, white swans, the girl manages to avoid the fate of her siblings. She learns that it is possible to break the spell, but only if she makes no sound for six years and sews each of them a shirt made from dew-flowers. Assuming the role of the loving sister, she stops talking and laughing and begins the slow process of spinning the shirts.
 When she is found by another king that is enchanted by her beauty and makes her his queen, the daughter is severely stressed and considered odd, until she is accused of being a witch. The witch of the forest is the aunt of the king and she lobbies to have the queen formally declared a witch and executed. At the day she was scheduled to die, her brothers in their swan forms swoop in, she covers them with the shirts that she made and can finally speak. The forest witch is revealed and suffers the fate of witches.
 While there is some tension in this story, there is nothing that will cause consternation in the young reader. It is a story where evil is punished, and the principles live happily for many years. The moral of perseverance in the face of adversity is one that is important for children to learn.

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