WHERE STORIES GROW by Zacharias Topelius


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A varied and uneven collection of stories by the 19th-century Finnish storyteller billed inevitably but unfortunately as the Finnish Hans Christian Andersen. Among the eight are a mildly amusing tale of tiny ""Tikka the Tailor,"" who sews Finland and Sweden together as a condition of marriage, and a sappy, sentimental one about a flower's lasting, one-way love for a butterfly. Most of the stories employ familiar folk motifs and plots: a fisherman and his wife rise and fall, a loyal cowherd resists temptation and becomes a hero, and-in the two most distinctively Finnish--a Lapp foundling's foster mother gives in to a superstitious prejudice that proves disastrous, and a bold, adventure-seeking lad meets up with the dreaded Ice-king of the mountain top. There is also a didactic, heavily satiric allegory about a winged little-girl ""homunculus"" just a few inches long, and a strange one about the young girl Lisalill who lives out her life without ever answering nature's persistent question: ""Why are you so lonely, Lisalill? And where is your heart's dearest?"" Of some historical/cultural interest, but Sperry's retelling lacks the spark and direction needed to get it across.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1978
Publisher: Crane Russak--dist. by Scribners