THE HINKY-PINK, an old tale retold by Megan McDonald
Ages 4 to 8
A Richard Jackson Book | Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster, New York
An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book selection
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection
An “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers” selection
A 2010-2011 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List selection
School Library Journal (Starred Review):
Anabel is a seamstress in Old Italy who dreams of making a dress worthy of a princess. Isabella Caramella Gorgonzola is a princess who gives the girl one week to make her a dress worthy of the Butterfly Ball. Locked in the tower sewing room, Anabel finds the finest silk, chiffon, and crepe as well as gold scissors, thread that is clear as glass, and a silver thimble. Unfortunately, she also shares the room with a Hinky-Pink that pinches her at night, steals her covers, and makes sleep impossible. When Anabel is “chill as a fish and can’t sew a stitch,” the nursemaid advises her to make the Hinky-Pink a bed of its own. After many unsuccessful attempts, Anabel fashions a tiny bed from her silver thimble, and the Hinky-Pink hums happily. Having slept “the sleep of a princess without a pea,” she sews the perfect dress in a single day. Illustrations are done in watercolor and ink and feature a warm palette of rose, peach, and gold tones. Actual landmarks are used to make Firenze come alive, while Italian words and phrases are scattered throughout, sometimes placed in speech bubbles. McDonald’s flawless storytelling melds with Floca’s joyous art, bringing new life to Margery Bailey’s “The Bed Just So” from Whistle for Good Fortune (Little, Brown, 1948). Girls who love princess stories will adore this lively tale.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):
In this small-format entry, a happy hybrid of traditional tale and quirky cartoon, McDonald (Judy Moody) and Floca (Lightship) recast a story from 1940 to tickle a contemporary fancy. Humble seamstress Anabel’s dream of sewing a princess’s ball gown is finally about to come true—until a Hinky-Pink, a mysterious, seemingly invisible creature begins robbing her of sleep night after night. The characters clearly inhabit fairy tale land—“back when mirrors could talk and princes were frogs”—but this particular magical realm intersects with a long-ago Florence, depicted in Floca’s limber ink-and-watercolor illustrations and invoked by the occasional Italian word or phrase. Like the text, the art hits just the right tone of tongue-in-cheek earnestness: after stating that the heroine’s name is Anabel the omniscient narrator adds, “Alas, not Anabella,” and a speech balloon floats out of the illustration (a panorama of Florence) with an echoing “Alas.” The lively design mixes full-page bleeds, pictures stretching across spreads, and tiny animated vignettes; a profusion of detail doesn’t impede a spirited sense of motion. For extra fun, endnotes identify Florentine landmarks.
Extraordinary seamstress Anabel wants to work for a true princess, one with beautiful features and a name ending in "ella." When Princess Isabella Caramella Gorgonzola soils her dress before the ball, she gives Anabel a week to create a designer gown while working in the princess's tower. Each night, an unknown creature pinches the seamstress and interrupts her slumber. Nursemaid Mag advises the girl that the Hinky-Pink goblin causes her unrest and will only end her torment-and give her the chance to finish the dress-if Anabel makes the creature a bed of its own, but each attempt dramatically fails. McDonald's storytelling excels through flavorful language, controlled pacing and a delightful conclusion. Floca displays the charm of Old World Florence through soft watercolor-and-ink illustrations that fill the pages, capturing the city's world-renowned landmarks. His delicate lines, full of vitality, enhance the retelling of this tale, which was inspired by Margery Bailey's 1940 story, The Bed Just So. Fairy-tale enthusiasts will delight in this fanciful story.
In old-time Florence, Anabel the seamstress is thrilled when she is summoned to the palace to produce a sumptuous gown for the princess. Every night, though, she is mysteriously awakened when her blankets fly off. "You have a Hinky-Pink," says the maid. "You must make [it] a bed of its own. Then it [won't] steal your covers." Too tired to sew, Anabel tries, and fails, to make the sprite happy. Then she lines a tiny thimble with cloth, and the room fills with the happy song of the finally satisfied little sprite. At last Anabel is able to sleep and work, finishing the dress just in time for a ball. McDonald's language, filled with rhymes and noisy nonsense, will make for a delightful read-aloud, and Floca's ink-and-watercolor images, best viewed up close, amplify the court's opulence and the story's humor and magic. The diminutive trim size and page layouts, which mix multiple small images and text, make this a good choice for kids transitioning to chapter books. An author's note lists the tale's origins. —Gillian Engberg.
A Fuse #8 Production:
Let's tick them off on our fingers shall we. You have a fun fairytale of an entirely new nature - tick. You have unexpected twists and turns in what at first appears to be an already familiar plot - tick. You have beautiful architecture and an eye pleasing shades and hues - tick. And on top of all that you have enough action and movement to keep you engaged from start to finish - tick tick tick.... So if your fairytale sections are running a bit low and you need something wholly new to please your older storytime crew, The Hinky Pink will fit the bill. One-of-a-kind in the best possible way. —Elizabeth Bird. Full review here.