This week, I’m going to focus on reviewing Cybils books that I wasn’t able to write up during the rush of Cybils season.
Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason. Candlewick Press, 2017.
This volume of retold European traditional stories is bound together by the forests where many of the stories take place – one forest where it’s always winter, where stories like Hansel and Gretel are set, versus the summer forest inhabited by “bunnies and bluebirds.” The language is poetic while keeping a sense of humor, and the heart of each story is looked for and often found in unusual places.
In the Frog Prince, Jenkins writes
“This princess, Crystal, was beautiful to most people’s way of thinking – except for those people who see beauty in character.”
In “Three Wishes,” a man numbed by the grief of losing his donkey and given three wishes makes one bad wish after another – with the unexpected ending that he and his wife are more grateful for what they have. In Toads and Pearls (the version Toads and Diamonds was a childhood favorite of mine,) the focus is on the heroine being given the gift of independence and escape from cruelty, while in The Three Great Noodles, it’s that while the world is full of foolish people, compassion is rare and valuable.
I love reading fairy tales aloud, but I’ve found that many of my favorite retellings are too long for either for super-tired kids at bedtime or for holding the attention of larger groups. This book’s shorter retellings lend themselves perfectly to reading aloud in these situations, though the small illustrations also reward the individual reader. I’ll close with this quote from Hansel and Gretel after they get back home:
“It was not easy, but it was family. The little brick house…was once again a home.”
Here are some of my long time favorite books of fairy tales:
- Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty. Illustrated by Jane Ray.
- Mightier than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Raul Colón.
- Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Susan Guevara
- Tatterhood edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps