As the reteller states in his preface, “Myths allow us to recognize our proper role in the web of life,” but this anthology...

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AMAZONIA

INDIGENOUS TALES FROM BRAZIL

Twelve folk tales from various Amazonian cultures are retold, but their audience is unclear.

A full-bleed illustration opens each myth, with greens, browns, oranges and golds predominating. The short myths and pourquoi tales feel fragmentary, although the longer stories are just as confusing. Perhaps the convoluted publishing history is to blame. Popov, the Russian illustrator, created the intricately dreamlike gouache and India ink paintings for an academic collection of Brazilian tales. (Humans wear few clothes, as is natural in this region.) Groundwood and a Brazilian publisher wanted to reuse the illustrations and invited Munduruku to present selected tales in a voice that is unquestionably authentic but will probably feel unfamiliar to North American readers, particularly young readers accustomed to European-American storytelling voices. Eight different groups are represented, but the book doesn’t provide information about the different cultures; strong relationships among the region’s flora and fauna and its indigenous groups are revealed. There is no map, but there is an excellent glossary. Readers hoping for drawings of the many local animals and plants mentioned will be disappointed.

As the reteller states in his preface, “Myths allow us to recognize our proper role in the web of life,” but this anthology will require an intermediary who can creatively make the connections between the text and its readers. (Folk tales. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-185-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.

DON'T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

THRILLS, CHILLS, AND HAUNTINGLY TRUE STORIES

A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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