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by & illustrated by

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: June 8th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-385-75190-2
Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Twins Toby and Tess live with their mother in a cottage by the village green, and she sends them out with a picnic lunch to sit beneath the huge old chestnut tree. A twinkly-eyed old man materializes there, and in exchange for the children’s sharing their lunch with him, he tells them a story. His name, aptly, is Teller, and over time he appears again, with more tales. Each time, he gives them a bit of something to remind them of the story he told: a dried berry from “The Woodcutter’s Daughter,” a bit of cloth from “St. Brigid’s Cloak” and so on. His tales are told in vigorous rhymed verse, with prose sections knitting it all together. Bailey’s black-and-white illustrations, in lithe line in Teller’s tales and silhouette in Toby and Tess’s frame, provide elegant visual counterpoint. Teller turns out to be a recognizable and beloved mythic character, and he leaves the children with the seeds of future stories and echoes of those past. Varied types are used judiciously to highlight both prose and verse; kudos to the designer for the harmonious whole. (Folktales/poetry. 8-12)