Frederic Clement,
The Merchant of Marvels
& the Peddler of Dreams

(Chronicle, 1995)

Frederic Clement's beautifully illustrated book opens with a tantalizing question: "Will you ... can you be tempted?" Three pages into the book and it's a sure bet that you can and will be.

The Merchant of Marvels & the Peddler of Dreams is a lavishly detailed account of one man's quest to find the perfect gift for his wife's birthday. Clement opens his pack and delves into a delightful array of unique gifts and wondrous collections, ranging from the whimsical to the rare. Clement suggests a pea from The Princess & the Pea, a troop of elephants as small as specks of sand, and the Mona Lisa's beauty mark, to name but a few of the imaginative items available.

The explanations that accompany each item are like tiny poems, concise and evocative. The varying fonts and sizes serve to add further illustration to the development of the narrator's quest, ultimately enhancing the collage of clip art, drawings and paintings on each page.

My only complaint about this book is that is was far too short. However, the illustrations and text provide plenty of opportunities for subsequent (and closer) readings. The Merchant of Marvels & the Peddler of Dreams is truly a marvel.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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