TALES TO TELL by Harold--Adapt. & Illus. Jones


Email this review


Jones is best known as the delicate, sturdy illustrator of Kathlees Lines' Lavender's Blue and A Ring of Tales. This collection of six nursery classics, though not an equally distinguished volume, embodies much the same comfortable, unquaint old-fashionedness. The six tales--as a stronger title might have brought out--are all cumulative. That trait is enhanced (as we're also not informed: there are no notes) by Jones' selection of flavorsome traditional versions--most interestingly (and exceptionally today), Sothey's piquant ""Three Bears,"" complete to Goldilocks hearing ""in her sleep the great rough, gruff voice of the great huge Bear. . ."" and waking to the sharp, shrill voice of ""the little wee Bear."" (The one change, of course, is the substitution of Goldilocks for the original old crone.) We also have Jacobs' ""Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse"" and ""Munachar and Manachar,"" and the Dasent telling of ""the Three Billy Goats Gruff"" (with its shivery/gruesome verse for the biggest billy goat gruff: ""Well, come along! I've got two spears,/And I'll poke your eyeballs out at the ears"")--plus the Henny Penny/Chicken Little story in its less common ""Chicken-Licken"" variant and a rousing, old-time ""Gingerbread Boy."" These are, in short, splendid read-alouds--with, not unfittingly, the weight on the words not the pictures (unlike such latter-day collections as Anne Rock-well's Three 'Bears or the Haviland/Briggs Fairy Tale Treasury). Jones makes no attempt to depict every development or, for that matter, to clarify details that may indeed puzzle a child: the reference in ""The Three Bears,"" for instance, to the beds ""too high at the head"" or ""too high at the foot."" Neither does he rely on characterization: the barnyard creatures that fall in line behind Chicken-Licken are just that, foolish creatures with nonsense-syllable names, not individual personalities. But in sunny, rustic watercolors Jones depicts the running bench and weeping walnut-tree, of ""Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse,"" and the animate axe and stone, of ""Munachar and Manachar,"" with chapbook directness and conviction. It all makes for a modest book with character and integrity, worth pondering as an alternative to showier, shallow volumes.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1985
Publisher: Greenwillow