Like many good fables, this story opens with a foundling left in the woods. A large lizard, ever conscious of tripping hazards, picks up the infant and takes her home, where she soon grows into a pretty, pampered, and generally useless young woman named Isabella. Despite her adoptive mother’s efforts (for the lizard is really a sorceress in disguise) to shape her up, the girl prefers the alluring life offered her by the charming Prince Rupert, a world of cooks and servants, palaces and jewels, luxury and indolence.
Luckily, the lizard woman is a canny, concerned parent. She does not suffer fools lightly and is not about to let her daughter’s too-easy transition to palace life go unchallenged. And so she arranges a surprise transformation for her daughter – one that puts the prince’s marital plans on hold and gives the sorceress just enough time to hammer home a few lessons about the downside of idleness, the inanity of vanity, and the satisfactions of self-reliance.
In this witty, modern interpretation of a classic Italian folktale, Leah Marinsky Sharpe has crafted a light-hearted mother-daughter fable with a moral that is sure to strike a chord with readers of all ages. The illustrations by Jane Marinsky glow with rich color and playful humor. Together, words and pictures provide a zesty treat for parents and children alike.
Rich storytelling and intricately imagined artwork make this debut a standout. . . . Marinsky’s paintings, in the chalky, sun-bleached colors of the Italian renaissance, contain many small pleasures: the woods and flowers of medieval tapestries, the goat-headed princess licking cupcake batter off her goat nose, and a portrait of the shallow prince’s just fate. A must for anyone who would rather be a sorceress than a princess.”
Sharpe has made changes in theme (that goat’s head was originally punishment for being ungrateful) and language, but this version, the story’s first separate appearance in this country, will make a popular gift from parents and caregivers afflicted with similarly slothful younglings.
The cast of characters in this reinterpretation of an Italian folktale includes a lizard and witch, deserted baby, and a lovely, lazy girl troubled by a bout of goathead-itis. Not to mention a finicky prince who is shocked to discover a faun-like face on his girlfriend’s body. The story is rich with subtle reminders to be self-reliant, productive, authentic, and watchful of the motivations of others. Marinsky’s rich, renaissance-inspired artwork captures just the right imagery.
The Goat-Faced Girl, a witty and richly illustrated retelling of an old Italian tale that will probably be new to most young American readers. Children ages 5-10 will relish Jane Marinsky’s colorful, naïve-style paintings of Isabella learning to persevere, especially the image of her determinedly stirring a bowl of batter, unaware of the dab of chocolate on her goaty nose.
—The Wall Street Journal
A lizard who is really a witch trips over an abandoned baby and adopts her. Raised by her lizard-mother, Isabella grows up beautiful but lazy. When she becomes engaged to Prince Rupert, her mother gives her the head of a goat in order to spur her into action. Rupert is repulsed by her goat head, and gives her three impossible tasks to complete before he will marry her. Beautifully detailed paintings illustrate the retelling of this classic Italian folktale.
—Bookworm for Kids
Full-color paintings done in rich hues capture a long-ago-and-far-away ambiance that melds nicely with more modern sensibilities. This tale is a pleasure to read, and the illustrations are an absolute delight.
—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN for School Library Journal
The Goat-Faced Girl: A Classic Italian Folktale is a spunky retelling of a traditional Italian folktale with a new emphasis on self-reliance, especially for lazy would-be princesses. Recast with a lizard-sorceress, a shallow prince, and an indolent heroine who is serenely unaware of her troubling penchant to switch heads with a goat. All turns out for the best, with some surprising twists. The Goat-Faced Girl is a refreshing new take on a sly old tale, beautifully embellished with stellar illustrations of great imagination. The Goat-Faced Girl will appeal to pre-teenagers as well as a younger audience age 6 and up.
—Children’s Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review