When Kay is lured from his home by the beautiful, cruel Snow Queen, his friend Gerda sets out on an epic journey to rescue him. As she searches, she encounters a series of strangers to whom she relays her plight. Charmed by her story and her innocence, each of them helps Gerda, so that at last she is able to find the Snow Queen's icy palace.
Lewis's commanding translation of this Andersen classic rings with nobility even as it maintains a colloquial jauntiness. The famously gripping narrative, of tender-hearted Gerda's epic quest to rescue her friend Kay from the frozen realm of the Snow Queen, is respectfully and insightfully introduced by Lewis. She points out, for example, that, of all of Andersen's major tales, The Snow Queen is ``the most free from ill fortune, sorrow, unkind chance'' and that its protagonists ``make their own luck, good or bad, as they go''; and that it is the ``only great classic fairy tale in which every positive character is a girl or woman . . . while the victim to be rescued is a boy.'' Barrett (see review of Beware Beware , above) contributes gentle watercolor and pencil illustrations, evoking an ageless fairy-tale realm while a frisson of danger lingers beneath her flower-filled images. Pictures of icy wastes--a flurry of blue, white and violet--are especially striking. Inset illustrations and incidental art as well as full- and double-page pictures are interspersed throughout the very substantial text in an agreeable book design that accommodates the youngest members of the target audience. Ages 4-up.