The Faithful Friend
Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1995
From the Caribbean island of Martinique comes a tale of two friends so close one is willing to die for the other.
Clement Duforce, whose father owns a sugar plantation and whose mother died in childbirth is raised by a French-born widow who brings her own son, Hippolyte, with her. Clement’s father insists on the boys being raised together and they grew to be the best of friends. Once day when they are young men, Clement shows Hippolyte a portrait of a beautiful girl and asks his friend to go with him to ask for her hand in marriage. On their journey to Pauline’s house they are delayed by finding a dead beggar on the side of the road. They agree that they must bury the man before going on. Finally they reach Pauline’s house and Clement asks her to marry him; her uncle, a supposed wizard, refuses to give his permission and the young couple decide to elope. On the way home Hippolyte discovers three zombies who put death curses on the couple and he manages to save them from each curse. That is until the very end when he gives his life for Clement and Pauline; but this is a story with magic and all is not lost. Clement then, in turn, willingly gives his life for his best friend, Hippolyte.
This is a beautiful story of friendship, love and sacrifice. It is a common folk-tale but told in a new way with the distinctly West Indian zombie characters and a friendship that crosses racial barriers. The richly tinted scratch-board illustrations are equally beautiful and carry the story along. Although this is a picture book, the print is not sized for very early readers; it is, however, perfect for reading aloud – especially at night, maybe around a campfire or fireplace where slightly spooky stories are enjoyed in the dark.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws
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