Published by: Lion Children’s
Release date: October 2012
Ages:7 and up
From the publisher:
“An author and poet, welcomed for his reflective and thought-provoking style, retells 10 stories from different cultures – from around the world and through the ages – which each highlight the importance of taking care of the world. These stories – from ancient Greece, the Far East, the Celts, Africa, Greenland, Russia, China, Japan, South America and ancient Israel – afford wonderful opportunities for Jane Ray’s paradisiacal paintings of trees and flowers, animals and birds… in short, all creation.”
Did you know that January is National Folktale Month? I didn’t either, but it works out perfectly because I have this wonderful collection of folktales to share with you.
Originally published in the UK in 2010, Stories for a Fragile Planet has recently been reprinted and released in the US in paperback format. Each of the ten stories comes from a different region, be it Africa, Ancient Greece, South America, or Russia. Because there is such a diversity in origins, you also get a strong sense of the storytelling “flavor” of each culture. The Hunter and the Swan, a Far-East story about a hunter who kills only for the sport, centers around a young girl with a healing touch, the hunter himself, and the hunter’s foil, a holy man with wise words. From Russia comes A Fishy Tale, about a wish-granting fish who helps a poor country man and his wife with their greatest desires. Until the realize that those desires come at a cost. The book even includes a biblical retelling of the tower of Babel, this time told through the eyes of a child.
My personal favorite is a Celtic story, The Saint and the Blackbird. Similar to St. Frances, Kevin is a man devoted to the animals. But when a blackbird makes her nest in his cupped hands while Kevin is in prayer, he’s not quite sure what to do. Fortunately, his friends come to the rescue, bring food, and blankets, and keeping him comfortable during the long wait. When the eggs finally hatch, Kevin remains holding them, until the day the birds are ready to fly from the nest. Something about the story is so touching, both as a message of compassion and of friendship.
Since this is a picture book, we can’t leave out the illustrations. They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And it’s true, some books with terrible covers have wonderful, powerful, stories on the pages. But you know the reality… a good cover doesn’t hurt! When this book arrived on my doorstep, my first response was, “Oh, it’s so pretty!” Just as I’d hoped, the interior illustrations are just as beautiful. Jane Ray uses a consistent style and medium, but with just enough subtle difference that the illustrations also reflect the origins of the tale, often through the use of color. The end result is a book that flows seamlessly from one story to the next, in both text and illustration.
A welcome addition to any home or classroom library, Stories for a Fragile Planet is both timeless and current to today’s world.