THE BOOK OF FAIRIES

NATURE SPIRITS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

In her first book, Williams has gathered from around the world eight tales about fairies, those sprites of woodland, field, hill, and stream who have served as guides and mentors to humans regarding questions of proper behavior and natural harmonies. She includes stories about France's ``Fairy of the Meadows,'' who has advice on the perils of greed and the keeping of promises; China's ``Spirit of the Herbs,'' who counsels Chun Tao on curing a plague sweeping her land; Ireland's ``Fairy Queen,'' who tells Connla and Nora their destinies; and other equally extraordinary creatures from England and Japan, and from the Algonquin, Hindu, and Ojibwa traditions. Williams has chosen wisely, not only for the quality of the stories, but for making plain the universal appeal of fairies, despite their varied functions in disparate cultures. Newcomer Barrett takes a much softer approach to fairies in illustrations that are uniformly mawkish, and don't convey the bite, fear, or melancholy that gives the tales their crackle. Booktalk this one—an unusually small typeface may put off children drawn to the subject. (notes) (Folklore. 9-12) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-885223-56-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES

THE MYSTERY OF NORTH AMERICA'S FIRST PEOPLE

How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have “more questions than answers.” Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to “the strict rules of archaeology.” The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-561-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a...

MYTHOLOGY

OH MY! GODS AND GODDESSES

From the Basher History series

In Basher’s latest set of breezy “self”-portraits, 58 gods, demigods and mythological creations of diverse sort step up in turn to the microphone.

The entrants are limited to the ancient Egyptian, Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons and arranged in no particular order within their respective chapters. They range from the usual celebrities like Poseidon (“rhymes with ‘Joe Biden’ ”), Odin and Osiris to some who have gotten less press, such as Hebe—“Waitress to the Olympians”—and Gefjon, Aesir goddess of plowing. Along with mixing in such non-Olympians as Odysseus, Budzik swells the ranks by lending voices to Bifrost, Yggdrasil and even the battle of Ragnarok. The author’s introductory claim that the gods gave mortals “something to believe in and ideals to aspire to when life was looking bleak” is massively disingenuous considering the speakers’ own accounts of their exploits (Hel complains, “It’s really grim here. I get the dreariest dead”). Nevertheless, the sex and violence are toned down to, for instance, Hera’s tart reference to “my hubby’s mortal girlfriends” and Isis’ allusion to “complicated family vibes” (following her brother/husband Osiris’ dismemberment by their brother, Seth). In a radical departure for Basher, some of his dolllike cartoon figures bear grimaces rather than cutesy smiles.

More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a lighter-than-air refresher. (chart and foldout poster of Greek/Roman equivalents) (Mythology. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7171-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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