fairytales · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Magical Myths And Legends. Chosen by Michael Morpurgo.

Review: Magical Myths And Legends. Chosen by Michael Morpurgo.

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Every tale in this book is centuries old. So explains the introduction by Michael Morpurgo which explains that even before we had books, we had stories. 

Regular readers of my blog know that I have a passion for folk tales and legends. They are the stuff on which our dreams are built. They are the place from which other forms of storytelling evolved. It is lovely to see this collection of ten tales about well-known figures like Icarus and Robin Hood. 

This is the perfect introductory book to myths and legends. It looks a challenging size, but the text is large and the illustrations take up most of the page, so it is actually limited to one or two paragraphs per page. This makes it brilliant for less-confident readers, or for sharing aloud in shorter time-spaces, such as bedtime or the gap between lessons and play. 

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It also has a good range of origins – Greek Myths, and English folk tales, and Viking legends among them – and the stories are told and illustrated by different creators. I was particularly charmed, as a Millenial, that many of these the storytellers of my childhood. It felt like something I might have picked up in my childhood library (albeit in the fresher, prettier publishing style of today). Perhaps myths and folk-tales feel like this anyway, but reading words by Tony Bradman and Jeanne Willis added to this effect. These are some of the most established and practiced children’s authors working today. 

The range of illustration styles makes each story feel distinctive. Readers will soon have their favourites, and it is impossible to pick this up without flicking through to pick. 

I am impressed with this as an early collection of folk tales, and as stories that can be shared between people of all ages. This is the perfect book for reading out loud. 

 

Thanks to Oxford University Press for my gifted copy of Magical Myths And Legends. Opinions my own.

 

Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Red And The City by Marie Voigt

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Review: Red And The City by Marie Voigt

Red’s Mum asks her to take a cake to Grandma in the city. She tells Red to follow the heart flowers and stay on the path. The city has many distractions – shops to browse and food to eat, adverts to read and people to talk to. Red finds herself swallowed up by the temptations of the city. 

A timely narrative about modern life and a fresh take on a traditional tale. 

I moved from London to the countryside, and find this story extremely relatable. Even on the edge of London, even with a forest practically on my doorstep, I strayed too often into the shops. Even when I had no money, even when I had better things to do. If I went looking for one thing, I popped into other places along the way. I can’t imagine living that way now. Now I walk under an open sky and use my time to get a bit more writing done. 

img_8238Does this book criticise the city? Not at all. The ending makes that very clear when Red and Gran talk about all the lovely things they might do together in the city. Cities have museums and galleries, libraries and theatres, and you know what? Even shops. If your intention is to spend half a day shopping, that’s all good. This book is about how many distractions we meet along the way. It challenges us to stick to our original intentions. 

As well as being a brilliant story about city life, it could be used as a metaphor for online behaviour. How often do we come online to look up one thing, or to do a specific job, and end up scrolling? Or flicking through our regular pages? 

The Red Riding Hood narrative is echoed in the choice of language (‘Oh city, what shiny toys you have …’) and also in the illustrations. The wolf is everywhere, hiding behind every distraction. He is disguised as an advert and a bus stop and a fast-food restaurant. 

The colour palette of greys, black and white is so dystopian and the effect is stunning. It isn’t scary, but like a fairy-tale, there is a hint of darkness at the edges. Little Red, in her bright coat, is in danger of being lost to the enormity of the city. 

A clever take on the traditional tale and a narrative which needs to be told. This will be popular in classrooms and libraries, and it would also make a wonderful bedtime story to open a discussion about the activities which are really important to us. 

 

Thanks to Oxford University Press for my gifted copy of Red And The City. Opinions my own.