I am a huge fan of Steven Kellogg. I adore the Jimmy's Boa stories, I laugh over his retold folktales, and I enjoy his exuberant and detailed illustrations. However, I am sadly disappointed by his newest book, Pied Piper's Magic. The illustrations are as fresh and colorful as ever, but the humorous and charming details are missing.
And the story...well, this isn't the classic Pied Piper story. A small elf named Peterkin comes across a depressed and lonely witch named Elbavol. He fixes her house and she gives him a magic flute. He discovers that it plays words and whatever words he plays, that thing appears. He arrives at a city where the cruel Grand Duke makes all the parents work in factories and all the children sweep the multitudes of rats away from the monuments. He offers to get rid of the rats and give the reward to the people. He pipes up all the rats, then plays backwards and turns them into stars. He then takes the cruel Grand Duke out to Elbavol's cottage, plays backwards, and everybody becomes Lovable.
The plot has several holes in it - originally he creates the different animals he pipes up - is he then creating the rats? Why does his pipe suddenly call them? If piping the witch's name backwards makes her Lovable, why does that affect the duke? Now that no one is working in factories, exactly how is the city surviving - and buying all that fancy paint to decorate everything?
Verdict: My main regret is that Peterkin doesn't continue to play backwards, contract that dread disease named Nikretep, and expire of the story's sickly sweetness.
ISBN: 978-0803728189; Published April 2009 by Dial; Borrowed from the library