with Storytime CD
Ages: 5+ (ALL AGES)
Finished: Dec. 9, 2010
First Published: Sept. 1, 2010
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Genre: Picture book, fairytales, legends
Once upon a time there lived a blackbird and his wife and they sang so sweetly together that everyone who passed beneath the tree where they lived would stop and listen.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Barefoot Books.
Reason for Reading: I love reading illustrated books of fairytales, myths and legends. The tales mentioned in the publisher's summary didn't sound familiar to me so this book intrigued me.
A fabulous collection of fairytales (and a couple of legends) that all involve elements of magic or unexplained happenings. Some have happy endings, but not all. This collection was all new to me except one, and not knowing the originals I cannot say whether they have been watered down but I doubt it because of the elements that are included. We have a disembodied body, a reanimated corpse and a couple of elves who cut off their feet! And sometimes someone learns there lesson the hard way.
These tales are all perfect for even the youngest listener and perfect for reading aloud as they are written in a storyteller voice and these tales all include the element of repetition in various formats. One story uses the sing song phrase which gets repeated over and over throughout the tale, another has an animal walking along and asking a question, the answer is yes, then another animal comes along and so on until at the very end things change when the answer is no. Then there's the scenario where one goes out and tries one thing for a certain result and that doesn't work, so they do another thing and that doesn't and so on. These repetitious tales are always favourites for younger children and I've found them the most fun to read aloud. If you are not into reading aloud, then you are in luck as the book comes with an audio CD with all the tales narrated by the author Hugh Lupton, a professional storyteller.
Besides the repetition, another thing that makes this selection unique is that not one of the tales is common. I read a lot that I can't be sure I haven't heard some before once, but out of the seven stories I know, for sure, only one. The average person will not know any unless perhaps they are from the culture the tale comes from. Each tale originates from around the world and present here are: India, Chile, Inuit, Seneca Natives, Scotland, Russia and West Africa. My favourite was the last story from West Africa which is the one that involves the reanimation of a corpse, but it has a very touching ending. It's original title is "The Cow Switch Tail" and I should remember it as I've read "The Cow-Tail Switch, and Other West African Stories" by Harold Courlander, a Newbery Honor winning book, but that was a long time ago. Due for another read I guess! The illustrations are all done in digital collage and nothing more can be said than that they are wonderful to behold and this is a fine book both visually and textually.
Finally, the book ends with a little goldmine. The author tells us the source from which he took the original tale before he wrote his retelling. Here we are introduced to books from the '30s and '60s, some long out of print, others not, but great additions to fairy tale enthusiasts list. Also another random bit of information is imparted here. Hugh Lupton is the great-nephew of Arthur Ransome, whom he used to visit as a boy. He even recommends Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales as the book from which his Russian tale is told. This is the one I knew beforehand. Recommended for all ages. Young and old who love fairy tales & legends.