Cover image for The twins and the Bird of Darkness : a hero tale from the Caribbean
The twins and the Bird of Darkness : a hero tale from the Caribbean
San Souci, Robert D.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged.) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
When the Bird of Darkness takes Princess Marie, twin brothers Soliday, who is brave and kind, and Salacota, who is cowardly, set off to fight the beast and rescue the princess.
Reading Level:
810 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.2 0.5 65200.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.7 6 Quiz: 35262 Guided reading level: Q.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.S227 TW 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.S227 TW 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.S227 TW 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.S227 TW 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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When a benevolent king and his daughter, Princess Marie, find their peaceful kingdom threatened by an enormous, evil, seven-headed bird, the brave princess offers herself as the bird's hostage in order to prevent the entire kingdom from being thrust into eternal darkness.As soon as Soliday, a kindhearted, hardworking, and generous youth hears about the princess's sacrifice, he vows to kill the Bird of Darkness and save Marie. His identical twin brother -- the jealous, lazy, and dishonest Salacotta -- accompanies Soliday on the dangerous journey, but doesn't lift a finger in order to rescue the princess or slay the monstrous bird. And the second Salacotta sees his chance to claim that he was the one who freed the princess, he does just that.Will Soliday be able to convince everyone that he is indeed who he says? Will his brother admit his treachery? Will Soliday ever be able to trust his twin again?This timeless and resonant folktale about the forces of good and evil and the redemptive power of brotherly love is the perfect story for the ages.

Author Notes

Robert D. San Souci was born on October 10, 1946 in San Francisco, California. He attended college at St. Mary's College in Moraga. After holding jobs in book stores and in publishing, he became a full-time author in 1974.

He was best known for his adaptations of folklore for children. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 books for young readers including Song of Sedna, Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend, The Talking Eggs, Two Bear Cubs, Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, Brave Margaret: An Irish Tale, Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow, and Cinderella Skeleton. He wrote 12 books which were illustrated by his younger brother Daniel San Souci including The Legend of Scarface, Sister Tricksters: Rollicking Tales of Clever Females, and As Luck Would Have It: From The Brothers Grimm. He also wrote nonfiction works for children, several novels for adults, and the film story for Disney's Mulan.

The Legend of Scarface won the Notable Children's Trade Book in the Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies, and was a Horn Book honor list citation. Sukey and the Mermaid won the American Library Association's Notable Book citation in 1992 and Cut from the Same Cloth won an Aesop Award from the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society. He died on December 19, 2014 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 4. After his daughter, Marie, is carried off by the monstrous, seven-headed Bird of Darkness, a Caribbean king offers half his kingdom, half his fortune, and his daughter's hand to the hero who can return the princess. Twin brothers set off: mean-spirited Salacota and good-hearted, brave Soliday. Soliday slays the bird and is given a ring by the princess as a token of her love, but he falls in a ravine from which his greedy brother refuses to rescue him. Instead, Salacota assumes his brother's identity. Troubled by the changes in her bridegroom, Marie postpones the wedding. Meanwhile, Soliday uses the bird's seven beaks to dig himself from the ravine and, with the ring as proof of his identity, he claims his bride. San Souci's robust, exciting retelling is composed from 13 variants according to the author's note. The text is enhanced by Widener's rich acrylic illustrations, which carve from color the undulating Caribbean landscapes, stylized sculpted characters, and the horrific Bird of Darkness. An action-packed addition to folktale collections. --Annie Ayres

Publisher's Weekly Review

San Souci (Cendrillon) returns to a Caribbean setting for this composite tale relayed in lush jungle colors and featuring a macabre multiheaded monster. When the baleful Bird of Darkness, its seven eagle-like heads on serpentine necks, claims an island princess for its own, twin brothers set out to save her. But the twins are opposite in nature: Soliday (who, like the biblical Joseph, wears a coat of many colors) is altruistic and hardworking, while lazy, conniving Salacota happily betrays his own brother. Widener's (If the Shoe Fits; Forecasts, May 6) stylized perspectives heighten the sinister aspects of the plot, but his vivid acrylics create a subtle, disquieting tension that intensifies the story's suspense. In a characteristically striking juxtaposition, a tangerine sky is visible outside a sorcerer's shadowy hut, contrasting with the dark skull and crossbones hanging just inside. Color figures prominently in the layout as well, with warm hues backing lengthy blocks of text. The plot moves swiftly through treachery and triumph, but is not without its grisly moments, as when the bird issues a gruesome greeting to Soliday: "I'll strike the bargain I struck with the others:/ You give me your eyes and liver,/ I'll give you swift death in return." This well-wrought tale will best suit those who like their happily-ever-afters preceded by a good case of the shivers. Ages 5-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-San Souci has forged several tales into a cohesive narrative about a young man who rescues a princess (and his island nation) from the Bird of Darkness. While the story of a heroic delivery of a damsel in distress is certainly a familiar one, the author introduces a new element-the representation of good and evil as identical twin brothers. Soliday is kindhearted and brave. His brother, Salacota, is mean-spirited, jealous, and fearful. Distraught because the Bird has caused darkness, crop failure, and much suffering, Princess Marie offers to go and live on the mountaintop with it. Soliday, with the help of his grandmother and a sorcerer, slays the beast, but Salacota pretends to be his brother and steals away with Marie, gaining the praise of the king and the promise of his daughter's hand. But the princess, who is not only honest, but also insightful, suspects the deception and delays the marriage. In the end, Soliday proves his deed, wins Marie's love, and accepts Salacota's apologies and pledge of lifelong loyalty. San Souci's story is a worldly one, laden with symbolism and magical allusions. Older readers may comprehend the complex ideas but the "rescue" scenario will appeal to younger children, if read aloud. Widener's paintings are rendered in clear jewel tones, suggestive of the lush Caribbean landscape. The folk-art style works wonderfully with the text. A fine addition to folktale collections.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.