The current emphasis on early literacy has books of nursery rhymes popping up, but collections of nursery “stories” seem to be fewer in number. This one offers a nice roundup for family enjoyment.
The key to this medley of 15 tales is the folksy artwork (a blend of Tony Ross and Emma Chichester Clark), which is droll in tone but sidesteps being cartoonish. Faces have broad noses, eyes are dots, and curved lines form mouths. Visible brush strokes add swooshes of color that lend a simplified nuance to the short retellings written in a modern style. “Goldilocks was quite used to getting her own way. So she didn’t care a bit that she was not supposed to go alone into the woods.” For all its colloquialism, the text displays some fairly sophisticated vocabulary: “The wolf huffed. The wolf puffed, and his bad breath buffeted the straw house until it blew to bits.” The stories are an assortment of folk tales, fables and other favorites that range from the familiar—“The Three Billy Goats Gruff” and “the Emperor’s New Clothes,” to name just two—to some non-Western ones such as “Walnuts and Pumpkins,” a tale from Turkey, and “The Greedy Monkey,” from Pakistan. Each one is attributed to a country of origin, except, alas, for “The Man Who Never Lied,” which is from “Africa.”
Elegant it’s not, but down-to-earth it is, with a high entertainment factor for reading aloud and family sharing. Storytellers should also take note. (Folklore. 5-10)