December 19, 1977 12:00 PM

by John Gardner

This is a fairy tale for either very hip kids or adults who are not afraid to be seen reading a book with big print and lots of illustrations. Nothing if not eclectic, Gardner (October Light, Grendel) has drawn a plot that might have come from a collaboration of Chaucer, Poe and Walt Disney. There is a prince, but he is the ungallant Christopher the Sullen, who would rather play the violin than fight dragons. The beautiful maiden is a blacksmith’s daughter secretly ashamed of how muscular she is. A dwarf named Chudu the Goat’s Son says things like “One has serious reason to doubt one is as sane as one had hoped.” It is an unpretentious, charming and funny book. (Knopf, $8.95)

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