Make way for a wonderful fairy tale for readers ages 6-10!
Written by beloved Hungarian children’s author Ervin Lázár, Arnica, the Duck Princess features sumptuously colored, folk art illustrations by Jacqueline Molnár that make it both a satisfying read-aloud and read-alone book, bridging the gap between picture book and middle grade chapter book. Anna Bentley’s English translation is spot on.
Fairy stories are morality tales, at heart, and this one is no exception. Arnica is a sweet, gentle princess who falls in love with Poor Johnny, a free spirit who owns nothing. Luckily he loves her back. Equally luckily, her single-parent father (King Tirunt) believes in true love and approves of their match. But before the happy couple can waltz off into the sunset, the Witch with a Hundred Faces turns them into ducks! Returning one of them to human form is easy, but both? Ah, there hangs the rest of the tale. We also hear from two unnamed characters who comment on the dilemmas, feelings, and actions along the way. While this description may seem dry, the combination makes for a satisfying stew filled with whimsy and humor. Is Arnica, the Duck Princess a cautionary tale à la Brothers Grimm, or a jolly story that ends happily ever after? You’ll have to read this marvelous book to find out.
Author Ervin Lázár (1936-2006) was the 1982 runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and won three IBBY awards. Although his books have been translated into numerous languages, Arnica, the Duck Princess is the first to reach English-speaking readers. One can only hope that Anna Bentley has more Lázár translations in store!
Arnica, the Duck Princess
By Ervin Lázár
Translated from the Hungarian by Anna Bentley
2019, Pushkin Press
Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of over 40 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French and Italian into English, including the well-known Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels. Two of her latest translations, Luisa: Now and Then (Humanoids, 2018) and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas (First Second, 2017) were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Upcoming translations for her are Little Josephine (Humanoids, 2020) and Who Killed Kenny? (NBM, 2019).