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The Bottle Imp
by Robert Louis Stevenson
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From Publishers Weekly
In the later years of his life, the Scottish-born Stevenson and his American wife moved to Samoa, where this tale was originally published, in Samoan, in 1891. Offering an engrossing spin on a time-honored theme-the risky business of making a pact with the devil-this short story is a radiant jewel. It recounts the mercurial lot of Keawe, a Hawaiian who purchases a bottle inhabited by an imp capable of granting any wish. Yet this enticing object holds a dark curse: anyone who dies with it in his possession will burn forever in hell. And here's the sticky rub: one can only sell the bottle for less than its purchase price. Keawe rids himself of the bottle after acquiring a palatial home. But when he needs it again to ensure his happiness with a newfound love, its cost is, chillingly, one cent, and the responsibility of ownership becomes a good deal more complex. Stevenson throws unexpected curves and laces his narrative with memorable imagery and canny understatement. Blending period and contemporary elements, Mair's warm, grainy paintings hold more than a hint of Gauguin's renderings of the tropics' lush vegetation and gleaming blue seas and skies. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8?Published first in Samoan in 1891, this story is suffused with the magic of Polynesian culture. Keawe, a native Hawaiian, comes upon the wealthy but downcast owner of a magic bottle. His fortune comes from a demon that lives in the bottle and gives its owner anything he desires. There is a catch, of course. The owner must sell it for less than he paid or "burn in hell forever." Being young and adventurous, Keawe buys it for $50, and his wishes are granted. In addition, he sells the bottle to a friend who is fully aware of the stipulations it carries. Keawe then meets and falls in love with the beautiful Kokua, but now his circumstances take a dreadful turn for he discovers a spot of leprosy on his flesh. To reverse this condition, he seeks out the bottle imp, and he finally traces it to a man who has purchased it for two cents. The horror of Keawe's dilemma is plain; if he buys the bottle for a penny he will be unable to sell it again, and he will loose his soul. Yet his love for Kokua is so great that he makes the purchase. This transaction sets the stage for events that follow. Told with all the elegance of Stevenson's style, the story is enriched by Mair's opaque watercolors that recall the work of Paul Gauguin. Her primitive style and brilliant colors add to the tension of the story and evoke the lush environs of the setting. Older readers who enjoy horror stories but are ready for something challenging will surely find this spooky tale satisfying.?Barbara Kiefer, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-7. Would you sell your soul to the devil? For wealth? To save the one you love? This tale of a genie in a bottle is part Arabian Nights fantasy, part Faust, with an intricately twisting story of love and adventure that shows how good and evil get all mixed up. First published in Samoa in 1891, when Stevenson was living in the South Seas, it's illustrated here with Mair's lush full-page paintings that openly evoke Gauguin in their views of the tropical islands and the people. The hero Keawe from Hawaii buys a magic bottle that will give him all he desires--provided he sells it, at a lower price, before he dies; otherwise he will burn in hell forever. Every time he gets his heart's desire, including the woman he loves, disaster comes along with the happiness. Suspense builds as the bottle gets sold from hand to hand at a lower and lower price. No one wants to be left with the accursed thing. The ending is a cop-out (they have to dump that bottle on someone else), but the combination of the supernatural and the very human struggle with greed and envy makes for a moving story. The crisis when Keawe and his wife each secretly try to save each other is a drama of love and redemption. Hazel Rochman
Offering an engrossing spin on a time-honored theme--the risky business of making a pact with the devil--this short story is a radiant jewel. It recounts the mercurial lot of Keawe, a Hawaiian who purchases a bottle inhabited by an imp capable of granting any wish. Yet this enticing object holds a dark curse: anyone who dies with it in his possession will burn forever in hell. And here\'s the rub: one can sell the bottle only for less than its purchase price. Keawe rids himself of the bottle after acquiring a palatial home. But when he needs it again to ensure his happiness with a newfound love, its cost is, chillingly, one cent, and the responsibility of ownership becomes a good deal more complex. Newly designed and typeset in a modern 5.5-by-8.5-inch format by Waking Lion Press.
Card catalog description
Keawe buys a magic bottle which brings him all that he desires but which he must sell before he dies in order to avoid spending eternity in hell.
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