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River Forest Public Library River Forest Public Library

May Book Reviews -Folklore and Fairy Tales – 398.2

Cover image for The girl who spun goldKim

The Girl Who Spun Gold

By Virginia Hamilton

J 398.2 RUM

Fairy tales and folktales often repeat themes, stories, and characters with a wide range of variations.  In The Girl Who Spun Gold, the story of Rumpelstiltskin is told through West Indian culture and dialect.  Lit’mahn is the small, little-bit scary trickster who comes to the aid of Queen Quashiba who must spin golden thread to please her husband, Big King.  He has a condition, though.  If Quashiba cannot discover his real name in three nights, he will turn her into a tiny creature destined to live among the shadows like himself.  There is a good deal of tension in the story between Quashiba and Big King and Quashiba and Lit’mahn.  But as in almost all fairy tales, there is a “fairly happy ending.”  The truly outstanding illustrations shimmer and glow while incorporating lots of interesting pattern, detail, and gold.  The illustrations of Lit’mahn are fascinating and multi-layered.  The author’s use of dialect adds to the allure of the setting and is fun to read out loud.  Hamilton is an award-winning author who has several titles that explore variations on tales from different cultures.  In fact, there are many books in our fairy tale collection that present sometimes familiar stories in new ways.  Come check some out!


Cover image for The tale of Tricky FoxErin

The Tale of Tricky Fox

Retold by: Jim Aylesworth

J 398.2 AYL

This story uses fox brothers to bring an important lesson to life. It is a story about the consequences of taking advantage of mankind’s natural kindness. It has a repetitive nature, which could be fun for beginner readers to help out and maybe guess what’s coming next.

The Tricky Fox has a mischievous plan to get what he wants. He approaches as an elderly, exhausted, frail, old fox who then begs each victim to let him in. He is very convincing and wins over each person he tries to trick. He is a spry and agile fox, and although very clever, doesn’t consider all the angles. We see how if you pretend to be something that you’re not how it will eventually catch up with you. In the lesson of honesty vs. trickery, honesty will win every time.


Cover image for The most wonderful thing in the worldAmy

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World

By Vivian French

J 398.2 FRE

This classic story about finding love was inspired by the illustrator’s favorite childhood story. Set in a beautiful European-style fictional kingdom, the story tells how the king and queen decide to find a suitable husband for their princess daughter. The princess who is much loved, but kept secluded inside the palace walls, longs to see the kingdom she will one day inherit. She enlists a local gentleman she sees outside the palace gates to take her on tours all around the kingdom. Meanwhile, suitors from across distant lands try to show the king and queen “the most wonderful thing in the world” in order to win the hearts and minds of the king and queen, and therefore their daughter’s hand in marriage. What the king and queen realize is that the love of their daughter is the most wonderful thing of all. This unique picture book fairy tale has elegant pictures that add to the romantic aura of the story.


Cover image for Victoria

Nursery Tales Around the World

Retold by Judy Sierra

J 398.2 NUR

This collection of nursery tales examines similar stories from cultures all over the world. The stories are grouped by their similar plot or theme such as the Runaway Cookies section which includes The Gingerbread Man (United States), The Pancake (Norway), and The Bun (Russia). This book gives you an opportunity to provide a variation on stories your children may already know, as well as opportunities to examine the similarities and differences between these stories. Another sections, Chain Tales, includes This is the House That Jack Built (England), Anansi and the Pig (Jamaica), and The Rooster and the Mouse (Italy) which are structured with a lot of repetition which is fun for younger listeners to repeat with the reader. The book also has storytelling tips and explanation of the themes behind the stories. Check this book out to add some variety to your storytelling routine!