The Crystal Mountain
Author: Retold and Illustrated by Ruth Sanderson
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown/Time Warner Book Group/1999
ISBN: 0316770922
Age Levels: 8-12 (and up)

Book Review

This gracefully told tale, woven from strands of both Chinese and Norwegian folktales, is a visual and verbal delight. The setting is fifteenth-century Europe. Anna, a weaver, creates brocaded cloth to support herself and her three sons. One night Anna dreams
of a place more beautiful than any she had ever seen. A white marble mansion stood surrounded by exquisite gardens. Birds flew among ancient oak trees and sang in orchards and grape arbors. A stream wound through rolling hills.
It looks, to Anna, like paradise. She decides to weave a picture of it.

After three long years, Anna completes the tapestry. As she stands admiring her handiwork, a gust of wind carries the cloth away. Her eldest son, Leon, leaves to search for the tapestry. He is told by a hermit that the cloth has been taken by fairies to the Crystal Mountain. The hermit describes to Leon the terrible obstacles he must endure to get to the mountain and then offers him a bag of gold to aid in his quest. But instead of heading for the mountain, Leon takes the gold and goes to the city.

When Leon does not return home, Blaine, the middle brother, goes in search of the tapestry. He too comes across the hermit. And he too takes the bag of gold and escapes to the city instead of continuing on to the mountain.

Finally, Perrin, the youngest son, goes off to search for his brothers and the tapestry. Perrin too finds the hermit. But instead of giving Perrin a bag of gold, the hermit hands him a silver whistle. "Blow this when you have need," he tells the young man.

Perrin sets off, determined to surmount the obstacles. He rides through a firey plain, across an icy sea, and up the sheer sides of the Crystal Mountain.

Will Perrin find the tapestry? Will he be able to return home? I will not spoil the ending for you, expcept to say that it is eminently satisfying.

The oil paintings which illustrate this tale are stunning, allowing the reader to feel as if she could walk right into the picture.

Simply enchanting.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.
©2003 Education Oasis®

About the Author

Ruth Sanderson is the gifted author and illustrator of such books as Rose Red and Snow White, The Night Before Christmas, and Tapestries. Her texts and illustrations have charmed readers and critics alike. Ruth Sanderson lives with her family in Ware, Massachusetts. You may visit the author's website.