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Friday, September 27, 2013

Two Trickster Tales From Russia, Retold By Sophie Masson , Art by David Allan. Christmas Press, 2013

Some time ago, as I mentioned on this blog, I was invited to join a crowd funding venture. Sophie Masson, author of some gorgeous YA novels based on folk tales, had started a new venture with her friends, Christmas Press, which would publish traditional folk tales, starting with two from Russia. Would we donate towards this and for a set amount of money, we would receive a "perk" - in my case, a signed copy of the book.

My sister went to collect it for me from the post office. As soon as I had opened the parcel and begun to drool, she asked me if she could have it for Eden, my nephew Mark's older boy. I had waited for this and looked forward to it and it was every bit as gorgeous as I had expected.

But I thought of my crowded shelves and remembered that it was, after all, a children's book and Eden was about the right age to be discovering folk tales. I sighed, read it and handed it over. Really, there are too many adults collecting picture books as works of art instead of reading them with the children in their lives. And the publishers know about this and make sure there are plenty of artistic picture books aimed more at adults than children.

This isn't one of them, though it is a work of art. The style of the pictures is inspired by old Russian children's books and I can see this, but it also reminds me of English fairy tale artist Walter Crane, whose work illustrated such familiar tales as "Red Riding Hood"(see above). Gorgeous!

The two stories are "Masha And The Bear" and "The Rooster With The Golden Crest". The first reminds me of the folk tale where the girl marries the Devil and tricks him into taking her home in a sack. The second, about a truly stupid chook, is also familiar. Both have the repitition kids love, and should be fun to read with the little ones.

Read, enjoy, but make sure the child in your life does too.

The good news is that four year-old Eden has declared his passion for tales of brave knights, princesses and dragons.  Ah, little boy, come to Auntie Sue! 

The Walter Crane picture is taken from Creative Commons.

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