Max's class did a great project on Ancient Egypt, so we borrowed The Orchard Book Of Stories From Ancient Egypt from the library and really got into all things Egyptian! This is a great book, a perfect introduction to the classic myths for school-age kids. Myths like the story of Isis finding all of the pieces of Osiris' body and bringing him back to life are repeated in modern tales and music, and it's good to know where they came from. Don't worry about the stories being gruesome, they are nicely told! The last story is of Bata's trip through the underworld and the Gods weighing his heart against a feather... a great explanation of Ancient Egyptian beliefs through a story. The Gods and Goddesses are listed in the back of the book, and there's a write-up on the Rosetta Stone and how it helped scientists to translate Egyptian Hieroglyphs to discover these old stories.
Bunty, tree-planter extraordinaire, would love this next book: Spirit Of The Forest: Tree Tales From Around The World has beautiful watercolour illustrations and different kinds of stories: some quirky, some sad and romantic, many magical. I liked the Welch story of Saint Baglan, who built a church around a tree with spaces for the branches to grow out of the roof, a door for animals to come in, and a window in the roof for the bees! The Ugandan tale of two lovers who died together and grew into the first Flambouyant tree we loved, because it describes the flame-like flowers reaching for the Sun, who tried to help them.
The Kingfisher Book Of Magical Tales also features tales from around the world, and with lovely illustrations and beautifully told stories, this book makes lovely bedtime reading. The second to last story is sad, 'The Snake Princess', but it is very traditional in that the 'witch' ends up being pushed into the oven. The other tales have happy endings and are pretty funny in places too: I like the three princesses in 'The Quees Of The Bees' - the older princesses, who are vain and quarrelsome, end up with vain, quarrelsome princes! Of course the youngest princess, who did all of the rescuing and is wise and sweet, was assisted by ants, ducks and bees and lives happily ever after with the youngest prince.
Fairy tales are great. Those stories where the hero (or heroine) has to surmount great obstacles and ends up living happily ever after can help us all to deal with real life. And fairy tales are not just for girls! Happy reading!