Sergei Prokofiev, Ayesha L Rubio (illus and adapted by) Peter and the Wolf, The Five Mile Press, 1 Oct 2015, 32pp., $19.95 (hbk), ISBN9781760067816
This entrancingly illustrated version of Peter and the Wolf conveys the significance of the wolf that casts a dark shadow of fear in many European traditional tales. The characters, Peter, his pet cat, the bright little bird, the duck, and the wolf are captivatingly depicted in a contemporary style but in keeping with the qualities they were attributed by the melodies Prokofiev created in 1936.
The scenes of deep snowbound countryside and great tree trunks are relieved by one or two bright field flowers. The adult characters like Peter’s grandfather and the hunters are dressed in old style clothes and have impressive Russian beards. Nevertheless the tone is slightly comical and young children are likely to be entertained by the suspense, rather than terrified or horrified by the adapted narrative accompanied by these charmingly evocative illustrations.
The story in this version is changed. Instead of ending up in a zoo with the quacking duck still inside him, the wolf coughs up the live duck and he becomes great friends with Peter, his pet cat, the bird, and the duck after Peter persuades his grandfather that they will all be safe with the wolf in future. Purists may feel the adaptation is unnecessary but anyone looking at the book is introduced brilliantly to the spirit of Prokofiev’s tale and will go on to enjoy hearing the music he composed to accompany the original narration.
Reviewed by Elspeth Cameron