We recently listened to an amazing audiobook that surprised me by its depth and language. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is a Newbery Honor book for good reason. By weaving Chinese traditional folktale into a modern story about a girl living in poverty, Ms Lin creates a fairy tale odyssey that stands tall as a modern classic. Her own illustrations add further character to the richness of the tale. A dragon, a mysterious “old man of the moon,” beautiful mountain villages, and riddles she does not understand give Min Li an adventure that most children will delight in.Continue Reading
Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Power (Inner Traditions International, 1993) is a fascinating collection of tales from Australian Aboriginal woman as dictated to a Western woman in the late 1800s. Editor Joanna Lambert expands upon these tales by providing commentary and discussion after each tale, focusing on the various folkloric traditions around the globe and emphasizing both the uniqueness of the Aboriginal tales and the similarities the Aboriginal folklore has with other cultures. Given the thousands of years in which Aboriginal traditions flourished essentially unaltered, I found it fascinating to read the folklore.
Kate Langloh Parker was fascinated by the Aboriginal traditions as a child, and as an adult, she collected the stories the women told her. Tragically, in her day, such folkloric anthropological research was not appreciated in Australia. In the past century, Aboriginal traditions have been overshadowed by the Western traditions entering into the territory and the 60,000 year old culture is losing it’s solidarity.
Ms Lambert’s volume reintroduces Ms Parker’s anthology of collected stories with sensitivity into a world that may be better equipped to appreciate the culture of the Aborigines. Although I am not an anthropologist, I greatly enjoyed Ms Lambert’s commentary. The stories of Dreamtime are a fascinating look at an ancient culture and religious tradition. I only wished Ms Lambert and Ms Parker had more folklore collected to share with me!
When my son and this blog were newborns, I purchased a copy of Seth Lerer’s Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History and began reading some of the classic children’s books that I loved as a child and/or that have been influential in creating children’s literature as we know it. My project through the classics in that book got rather derailed as my baby became a toddler.
Now he’s a preschooler and I’m expecting another baby. I still don’t have the time (or the motivation, to be honest) to follow a progressive approach to reading through classic stories of the past1, but I certainly enjoy reading literary criticism of literature and the history of the stories that are the foundation for children’s literature today.
Enchanted Hunters, Maria Tatar’s volume on “The Power of Stories in Childhood,” is enjoyable and informative for the reader of children’s literature, for the parent who reads to a child, and for the reader who enjoys fairy tales. She discusses children’s literature from a few different approaches, including literary criticism, history, and personal opinions.
- I’ve found that my reading needs to be a bit more of an “escape” than an assignment given my busy life ↩
Time is running out this year, so some of my categories for my discussion of the Cybils awards may seem a bit of a stretch. The fairy tales books I share about below are quite different from the folkloric books I also share about.
Nevertheless, despite the slightly messy attempts at categorization, I have enjoyed so many of these books I’ve been reading. I hope you find something below that may interest you as well.Continue Reading