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FOR YOUNG READERS

Dear Mili, by Wilhelm Grimm and Maurice Sendak; Farrar Straus & Giroux, $16.95 -- This very odd story was discovered only recently in an 1816 letter Wilhelm Grimm wrote. It goes like this: A mother during wartime sends her little daughter off into the woods, where she is cared for by an old man (who turns out to be St. Joseph). The girl comes home, only to find that 30 years have passed and her mother is now an old woman. They have a joyful reunion, and a neighbor finds them both dead the next morning. In a more pious age, the figure of St. Joseph probably had more meaning, and this ending was a happy one. Children now may find it more frightening than comforting.

Sendak's illustrations have a kind of weird prettiness to them, considering the subject, with lush flowers and a cute little guardian angel hidden in almost every illustration. -- Jean Westmoore

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