This work, published in 2001, contains almost all of the elements which I look for in a book for children. There is a wonderful story or plot, excellent believable characters, good morals being taught, action, adventure and romance, some very fine art work which is quite eye catching, and above all, it has the ability to capture and hold interest from the first page to the last.
In a land, long ago, there lived a prince who, for lack of a better way of describing, was a total spoiled brat...a hansom young lad, that is true, but brat never-the-less. The young man was totally self centered, obnoxious and unlikeable to the extreme. Actually, he sort of reminded me of Prince Humperdinck of the 1987 film, `The Princess Bride.' I will admit though that our prince in this story was not all that evil, just extremely arrogant, rude and quite set on himself.
Anyway, this being a classic fairytale, the land is threatened by a chimera, a horrid beast, and of course the prince plans to destroy it...not to save the people so much, but because he is bored. The unlikable young prince happens upon an old woman and of course insults her...as he does almost everyone he meets. He also crosses paths with a young goat girl by the name of Eliza, and absolute stunningly beautiful goat girl I might add, and insults her too.
As chance would have it, the old woman happens to be a fairy in reality, and of course this old woman casts a spell on the prince (something all good fairies do from time to time if they are doing their job), and turns the young hansom prince into a rather semi-ugly dog. Alas, the dog prince is rejected by everyone; his family, his subjects, the people...all runs the poor dog off. Hungry and very depressed he happens upon the goat girl he insulted earlier in the story. She, being of kind heart, takes the homely looking dog in and cares for him.
Through this kindness the prince learns love, respect, manners and how other people should be treated. Of course when he saves the goat girl's flock of goats from the dreaded chimera in a battle to the death, he receives a kiss from the girl which lifts the curse and returns him to his former state; he has earned and received redemption. All is well and as in most fairytales, they live happily ever after.
The art work in this book is absolutely stunning. The illustrator has made each and every picture an absolute delight to they eye. I do not know which was more satisfying; reading the story or looking at the pictures.
This is a wonderful book for the 4 through 8 crowd and is a great read a long to use for a group reading.
Of further note, the author can be and is rather humorous throughout this work which will keep a smile on the face of any adult doing the reading.