BRITISH FOLK TALES: New Versions by Kevin--Adapt. Crossley-Holland


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A solid collection of 55 traditional British tales, retold in an untraditional but often intriguing style. Crossley-Holland subtitles his book ""new versions,"" and so they are. In his ""Frog Prince,"" a girl goes looking for water, instead of a princess seeking a lost golden ball; in ""Tom Tit Toy,"" it's not the girl's baby that will be forfeit, but herself; and Crossley-Holland's Jack, in ""Jack and the Beanstalk,"" has more to motivate him than greed. There are British parallels to other European folk tales: ""Mossycoat"" is one British equivalent of ""Cinderella'; ""Small Tooth Dog"" is a British ""Beauty and the Beast."" Crossley-Holland's selection of tales ranges from the hilarious ""Cow Who Ate the Piper"" to the mystical ""Butterfly Soul""; from the lyrical ""A Fine Field of Flax"" to the troubling ""Wildman."" His use of the narrative voice is particularly interesting when framing a tale with a modern narrator (""Sea Woman"") or using a first-person narrator to promote immediacy (""The Shepherd's Tale""). These are folk tales in literary retellings, using devices that enhance the effectiveness of some tales while obscuring the impact of others. A pronunciation guide is included, as is a fascinating section of sources and notes for each tale. Format is handsome, and there are lovely block prints at the beginning of each story (for which no credit is given). A strongly written collection, useful for comparative study as well as pleasure reading. A good addition to any large folk-tale collection.

Page count: 383pp
Publisher: Orchard/Watts