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Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest
Ole Könnecke By (author)
Ole Könnecke Illustrated by
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Gecko Press

Limited ***

7.0 X 8.5 in
64 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Readers / Chapter Books
JUVENILE FICTION / Fairy Tales & Folklore / General
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Parents


Brave and capable Dulcinea must save her father's life and get to her birthday party on time


"'Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest,' by Ole Könnecke, has the feel of a classic fairy tale pulled from a big book in a forgotten attic, dusted off and lightly adapted for modern readers, with visual gags and a few sly winks. But 'Dulcinea' is, in fact, an entirely original tale. It's just made up of all the traditional elements. It boasts a remote castle, a kindly woodcutter, an eccentrically wicked witch (this one is so absent-minded she can't remember a single spell without her book of magic) and one very loyal duck.

Dulcinea lives an idyllic life with her father in a house on the edge of a large forest. She helps with the chores but more often plays with the animals in the garden. What they don't grow for themselves they pick up at the market in town. There's only one rule: Do not go into the forest. Because that's where the witch lives. That's where witches always live.

The twist here is that it's Dulcinea's father who ends up breaking his own rule. On his daughter's birthday, no less. Because he needs some blueberries for the pancakes. And of course the witch catches him. And of course she turns him into a tree (a tree with kind eyes and a very fetching mustache). And of course it's up to Dulcinea to traverse the forest to the witch's castle and steal the book of magic spells to make things right. 'Thank goodness Dulcinea could read.'

It's a well-told tale with an indefatigable heroine, and an interplay of words and pictures that feels as if it shares lineage with Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl. A fine winter evening read-aloud, to be enjoyed next to a warm fire with a plate of cookies. Or, you know, 'biscuits.'"—The New York Times Book Review


"With the charming trappings of an old European fairy tale and a comical dash of irreverence, this German import tells the story of a girl who must save her father from a witch's spell. Dulcinea, a small white girl with light brown hair drawn into pigtails, lives with her kindly, mustachioed father near the woods outside of town—woods rumored to be enchanted and home to an evil witch. On the morning of Dulcinea's birthday, her father ventures into the forest to pick some blueberries for Dulcinea's birthday pancakes. In a flash, the witch discovers him and turns him into a tree (still mustachioed). Dulcinea follows her father's footsteps into the woods and, realizing what happened, sets out toward the witch's castle in order to reverse the spell. Könnecke's early chapter book moves at a quick clip and is punctuated by entertaining non sequiturs and simple inked illustrations in orange, black, and white. This will easily be a success with both young listeners and readers, who will be drawn to dauntless Dulcinea."—BooklistJournal

"Cartoon-style illustrations feature black outlines and round-eyed, pale-skinned, noodle-limbed characters in this endearing modern fairy tale by Könnecke. Written and adeptly translated in clear blocks of detailed text reminiscent of classic storybooks ('They had a cow for milk, chickens for eggs, and fruit trees and currant bushes in the garden'), the narrative follows a brave, pink-skinned girl named Dulcinea, who sets out into the forbidden forest on her birthday with her ever-present pet fowl to find the paper-white witch who cast a spell on her father. Venturing into the forest seeking blueberries for Dulcinea's birthday pancakes, Dulcinea's father has been turned into a tree, and only the child's ingenuity saves her from a similar transformative fate. Könnecke offers gentle comedy throughout: 'Besides, nothing bad could happen to you on your birthday, could it?' Concise chapters move the pace along as readers follow Könnecke's inky, black-outlined art in a tale for those who love magic, fairy tales, and blueberries on their pancakes."—Publisher's WeeklyJournal

"In this German import, Dulcinea rescues her father from a spell an evil witch has cast on him.

It's classic fairy-tale material: a father and a daughter he loves very much contentedly living together—but next to a forest, wherein dwells a witch. There's even a castle and a moat with monsters. But this fairy tale is updated with some attitude and a gentle poking of fun at fairy-tale tropes: 'The witch sighed. She had always found young children exhausting.' There are also some seriously funny illustrations. Dulcinea has promised her father that she will never enter the enchanted forest, but one day her father ventures in against his own advice, hoping to find blueberries for Dulcinea's blueberry-pancake birthday breakfast. When he is accosted by and turned into a tree by the witch, Dulcinea must enter the forest herself in search of him. She recognizes him at once, and readers will too, because the illustration shows a tree with big eyes, a hat, mustache, and arm branches with leaf fingers. The story's illustrations are done with a limited palette of brown and black in a minimal, forthright style that features simple and adroitly effective linework. The juxtaposition of Dulcinea's earnest, often deadpan mien and the witch's over-the-top dramatic expressions is priceless. In good fairy-tale style, Dulcinea sets off to find the witch, overcomes obstacles, uses her brain to triumph, and it all ends happily-ever-after. All humans present White.

Wonderfully amusing illustrations enrich a confident, capably executed narrative."—Kirkus ReviewsJournal

"Konnecke's (Anton Can Do Magic, rev. 1/12; You can Do It, Bert, rev 3/15) drolly illustrated early chapter book stars Dulcinea, a girl who loves blueberry pancakes and her father. Elements from fairy tales—a magical transformation, a witch, monsters, a perilous journey, an impervious castle, a clever heroine, a book of spells, even a woodcutter—infuse this original story. Konnecke adds his own unique touches: the story takes place on Dulcinea's birthday, so there are balloons, which pop on the thorns surrounding the witch's castle; the witch is an absolutely hideous singer; Dulcinea's sidekick is a (barely mentioned in the text) white duck. The love Dulcinea feels for her father underlies the whole plot, making this more reminiscent of Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble or Brave Irene than something out of Grimm. Profuse line and wash illustration, in a minimal palette of light oranges and browns, set the scene and capture atmosphere and personalities beautifully, from the egomaniacal witch to Dulcinea's sweet father—whether as a human or a tree."—The Horn Book MagazineJournal

Author Bio

Ole Könnecke was born in 1961 and spent his childhood in Sweden. He now lives in Germany and has produced more than 30 books, several of which have won international awards.
Ole Könnecke was born in 1961 and spent his childhood in Sweden. He now lives in Germany and has produced over 30 books, several of which have won international awards.