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Children's Literature Reviews
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Good Griselle
an original tale by Jane Yolen ; illustrated by David Christiana.
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, c1994.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 29 cm.


Angels and gargoyles test a woman's goodness by providing her with an ugly baby to love.

Best Books:

Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, October 1994 ; Cahners; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 1995 Finalist Children's Literature United States

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.4
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5


Christie (BookHive (
This story is set in Paris and is about stone statues of angels and gargoyles placing bets on the lace maker, Griselle, to see just how good she really is. The test they give Griselle is to take care of the ugliest baby she has ever seen. A true test of character, you'll root for Griselle and hope that her goodness will triumph. David Christiana's lush watercolors are full of warmth but also contain a dark and strange uniqueness. The emotions displayed on faces look realistic whether on a living person or on the stone statues. They are an excellent complement to the story. Category: Folklore; Novello; Read Aloud. Grade Level: Primary (K-3rd grade); Intermediate (4th-6th grade). 1994, Harcourt Brace. Ages 5 to 12.

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, October 1, 1994 (Vol. 91, No. 3))
The angels and gargoyles carved on an old cathedral are the characters in an original fairy tale about an ugly changeling. Set at Christmas, this is also a kind of Nativity story. Griselle is so beautiful and good that she gives away half her food to the cats and birds. The grumbling gargoyles can't stand her, and they have a wager with the angels to test Griselle's goodness by sending her an ugly and unlovable child. He arrives at her door on Christmas. She takes him in and loves him. Nothing will make her abandon him, not even the man she loves, not even her own safety. She is the child's savior, and her love transforms him. The book design is handsome, with some hand lettering and with watercolor paintings of depth and mystery that evoke the sculptured figures in stone shades of gray and brown. Some pictures are like panels; some show the gargoyles bursting out like evil happenings and ugly feelings. One realistic view of the child clutching the battered mother is a heartbreaking madonna image. Like Winter's illustrated version of Lagerlof's The Changeling (1991), this may appeal more to adults than young children, but it will touch anyone who imagines a story about those strange figures carved in stone. Category: For the Young. 1994, Harcourt, $14.95. Gr. 2-4.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
In old Paris, a wager is placed between stone angels standing tall on a cathedral wall and stone gargoyles squatting precariously on cathedral ledges. The gargoyles, speaking in voices "passersby mistake for the rumbling of carts," bet that the good, kind lacemaker Griselle cannot love an ugly little boy; the angels, cooing like pigeons, smugly bet that she can. The angels win. Griselle welcomes the ugly boy, who smells as ripe as "a dish of milk left out too long" and is as heavy "as a sin," and she dresses him in clothes fashioned from her own, including her pearl-studded wedding dress. Although she is cruelly tested, she proves her worth and loves the child -- she even scolds the angels for calling him ugly. When Griselle dies, her boy disappears. But one can still see him at the cathedral, writes Yolen (Beneath the Ghost Moon, p. 1142, etc.; Old Dame Counterpane, see below): He is the ugly little stone angel with the "absolutely angelic smile." Told with language as precise -- and illustrated with watercolors as delicate -- as the "miracles of lace" the heroine creates. 1994, Harcourt Brace, $14.95. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Yolen reaches new heights in this flawless tale. Patterned after the story of Job, it concerns one Griselle, a lace maker in Paris of long ago. Reports of her goodness so enrage the gargoyles on a nearby cathedral that they place a wager one Christmas Eve with their holy counterparts, the stone angels. Their bet? To test Griselle's goodness by thrusting upon her "an ugly and unlovable child." The angels consent, and the gargoyles send a hideous, squalling imp to the woman's doorstep. Though the foundling tests her sorely indeed, Griselle proves faithful, and in a particularly poignant ending, her place in heaven and that of her homely but much loved son are assured. The prose is lush but exquisitely restrained, and moves to the measured cadences of another, more gracious era. The story creates new opportunities for Christiana's (White Nineteens) brooding, mysterious watercolor art. Part impressionist, part Arthur Rackham, wholly original, rendered largely in shades of gray but with an occasional touch of color, the illustrations reveal a world where crouching gargoyles hint of dark purposes and the shadowed and oblique are infinitely more intriguing than the overt. In a word, heavenly. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)


LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.Y78 Go 1994
93011691 [Fic]
0152317015 : $14.95 (est.)
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