Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Children's Book Reviews - It's That Time Again!

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!

4 comments:

Audubon Ron said...

Fairy tales are great. On the political correctness of gender related words like hero/heroine, this is where our English language could use some revisiting. But, I can't really think of a good quick fix. Heroites? Nope, that would be a country of heroes. Heroperson, I don't like the ring to that. Herobeing, too outer space. This may take awhile...

LceeL said...

Fairy Tales are great - and there's such a thing as carrying 'PC' too far. I LIKE the word 'Heroine'. On the other hand, like as not I'll refer to a woman as "Ma'am", and not "Ms." So i guess I'm a little old fashioned.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I think I'd like the tree book. That is one thing I did buy in my travels--local children's tales--just the other night the boys and I re-read Cu Cullain!

acalre said...

The first fairy tale you described sounded like Hansel and Gretal, where the wicked witch ends up in the oven. And the second one sounded a little like Cinderella, where the youngest is sweet and has to surmount many obstacles but ends up with Prince Charming.

In fact the actual fairy tales, before Disney got their hands on them, WERE very gruesome. The ugly sisters cut off their toes to fit their feet into a slipper made of squirrels skin to fool the Prince. The Prince was alerted of this trickery by two pigeons, who pecked their eyes out!

In Snow White the Queen is forced to dance to death in red hot iron shoes and Snow White is not woken up by a Prince's kiss, but is woken while being jostled on the Prince's horse.

Red Riding Hood is not saved by the Wood Cutter, but is eaten by the Wolf who gives her false directions.

And well you don't want to know what happens to the real Sleeping Beauty!!