Title: The Prince of the Dolomites: An Old Italian Tale 

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Creator: Tomie dePaola

Once upon a time, so very long ago, the mountains we know as the Dolomites were dark and dreary and somber. They seemed to drive the very sunlight from the valley they surrounded. In that day, the land was ruled by a wise and just Queen, a widow raising her son Solatio to someday be a wise and just King. But in his nineteenth year, Solatio had a vision: a stunning, beautiful Princess -- who lived on the Moon. Despairing of ever seeing his love again, Solatio took to wandering the countryside at night, following the course of the Moon. On one such trek, he encountered the Salvani, strange, magical little men who were guardians of the wilderness. When he learned that they had been driven from their forest by greedy men, Solatio offered the Salvani a new home in the valley. And this one act of kindness would set in motion a series of events that would allow Solatio to achieve his heart's desire ....

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with a book. I checked it out from the library constantly. I knew the pictures and the story by heart. Eventually, I lost track of the book ... I even forgot the title ... but I never forgot the story. Years later, when I was finally able to find a copy again, I fell in love all over again.

The Prince of the Dolomites is not only one of the books that I blame for my life-long love of literature, but also my eventual turn to Paganism. Though I am pretty sure that dePaola himself is Catholic, Pagan elements are woven throughout the tale: the Salvani themselves (cultural remnant of the Roman God Silvanus, and possibly satyrs); the magic of the Salvani, in which they weave the light of the Moon to brighten the Dolomites; Solatio's kindness towards the Salvani references ancient laws about hospitality; Prince Solatio's wise old (crone) nurse, Maga Rosa; even the names of the two protagonists, Solatio ("sunshine") and Lucia ("light"), reference the Sun and the Moon.

The Prince of the Dolomites is a wonderful tale which teaches Important Life Lessons about love and kindness and honor and determination. It is also a subtly Pagan tale which will have children begging for more. Do yourself and the little ones in your life a favor, and find a copy.