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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: February 12, 2010

Submitted by on February 12, 2010 – 11:35 AM10 Comments

Hello, Sars!

I’ve always enjoyed reading your advice, but didn’t think I had anything to write in about. Then, I remembered how great you and your readers are at finding difficult-to-remember books, and I was wondering if you’d be able to help me.

There was a children’s book I read several times in first, possibly second, grade, so it was published no later than 1991-1992. The copy I read was from the school library, and I haven’t seen or heard of it outside of there. It’s possibly a Welsh or Celtic fairy tale, maybe about the gwragedd annwn.

It was about, as best I remember, a young man who goes underwater (the sea? maybe a lake?) and falls in love with the daughter of the underwater lord/king. I think he may have had to perform tasks to prove that he was worthy of the daughter’s hand. At the end, the king finally agreed to the marriage, with one condition: the young man would have to pick his beloved out of many identical copies of her. He did, I think with her help (she signaled him, maybe?), and they lived happily ever after.

The illustrations were lovely and not childish-looking, possibly watercolor paintings, and the colors (again, from what I remember) were darker/more subdued than you’d expect in a children’s book. The only picture I remember for sure was the one where the young man is trying to pick the correct daughter. He and the king are near the front, and stretching behind the king are dozens, if not hundreds, of identical daughters.

I’ve tried searching for it online, but I don’t remember enough to narrow down the search field. If you can help me, I’d be very grateful!

Memory Like A Rusty Sieve, I Swear




  • Mich says:

    The Wizard’s Daughte by Chris Conover. The illustrations were amazing.

  • Emma B says:

    Not specifically what you’re looking for, I don’t think, but you might be interested in the illustration work of Michael Hague. As a child, I had his illustrated editions of _The Hobbit_, _The Wizard of Oz_, and _The Wind in the Willows_, and they’re treasures I’m looking forward to sharing with my own children.

  • Leigh says:

    Michael Hague books are BEAUTIFUL. His daughter is a friend of ours and as a child was the inspiration for many of his characters :)

  • Rusty Sieve says:

    It IS The Wizard’s Daughter! Of all things, I recognize that dog on the front cover. Thank you all so much!

    And Michael Hague’s illustrations look gorgeous; I’ll have to keep an eye out for his stuff at the library.

  • Sarah Mark says:

    Glad you found the book: I don’t know it but I thought it’s neat that I have an illustrated Peruvian fairy tale about a young man who falls in love with the daughter of the Sky King and has to visit a cloud kingdom to pick her out from many identical copies.

  • Cyntada says:

    Seconds (thirds? fourths?) on Michael Hague. He also illustrated a lovely version of The Velveteen Rabbit, and his unicorn drawings were a staple of the ’80s.

  • Sandman says:

    One and done! TN readers are awesome. Bonus points to anyone who can actually pronounce “gwragedd annwn,” though Rusty Sieve presumably has the advantage here. I always think Welsh looks as if it doesn’t have quite enough vowels to go around.

    Adding Michael Hague to my library queue …

  • Nina A says:

    @Sandman gwragedd annwn -goo-ra-geth annoon (like noon) is close.

  • Sandman says:

    @Nina A: Hey, thanks! I’m a bit of a magpie with languages – I love picking up shiny new things to say. I thought that the Welsh ‘w’ had kind of a ‘oo’ sound, but wasn’t sure.

  • Maren says:

    Michael Hague’s illustrations for The Secret Garden are the only ones that look right for me. I love how sallow and sullen Mary is.

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