Black Bull of Norroway: A Scottish Tale

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Overview

Long ago in Norway, three sisters were talking about marriage. The two eldest wanted titles and money. Peggy Ann, the youngest, only wanted a kind husband who loved her. I'd even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway, she said.

And so begins a classic fairy tale of enchantment, adventure, bravery, loyalty, and love. Charlotte Huck's spunky heroine and Anita Lobel's lush paintings combine to create an experience to be savored over many ...

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Overview

Long ago in Norway, three sisters were talking about marriage. The two eldest wanted titles and money. Peggy Ann, the youngest, only wanted a kind husband who loved her. I'd even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway, she said.

And so begins a classic fairy tale of enchantment, adventure, bravery, loyalty, and love. Charlotte Huck's spunky heroine and Anita Lobel's lush paintings combine to create an experience to be savored over many readings.

A traditional Scottish tale set in Norway in which a courageous girl sets out to seek her fortune and ultimately finds true love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following Princess Furball and Toads and Diamonds, Huck and Lobel now reshape another traditional story, a labyrinthine Scottish tale set in Norway. A widow's youngest daughter announces that the man she marries need not be titled nor wealthy: "I only want him to be kind and good and to love me. I'd even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway." That very creature, "known to be a monster," appears at her door when she, Peggy Ann, leaves home to seek her fortune. The bull brings the girl to three different castles on successive nights, announcing that each is the residence of one of his brothers, who are humans. After Peggy Ann removes a thorn from the bull's foot, breaking a spell and thereby restoring him to a handsome duke, the two become separated and years pass and several plot gyrations occur before the couple reconnects. In a concluding note, Huck refers to her heroine's "long and arduous search for her lost love," but their reunion is roundly satisfying. The text is inventively set into Lobel's watercolor and black pen illustrations. An appealing folk-art quality gives the tale a suitably timeless look, while the thoughtful visual interpretations capture its emotional nuances. Ages 6-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
"Rather than write modern fairy tales with brave heroines, I prefer to search for the traditional tales that show plucky girls," states Huck in the author's note. She has found a very old Scottish tale that is set in Norway and has successfully retold it. Peggy Ann is the youngest of three sisters. The older two wish to marry men of wealth but Peggy Ann wants a husband who is kind and good. She says she would even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway. How surprised she is when he appears and tells her to climb on her back. She soon discovers how kind and gentle he is, and she breaks part of the enchantment. However, she does not follow his terms, and they become separated for seven years. Peggy Ann must scale a glass mountain and outwit the witches before they can be reunited. Lobel skillfully varies her illustrations, sometimes choosing to highlight grand scale, while at other times providing small details and hints of things to come. Her use of thistle on the title page and the first page of the story remind the reader that this is a Scottish tale. The illustrations work beautifully with the text to elicit the emotion of the story. 2001, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 6 up. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A complex Scottish folktale set in Norway. Three sisters set out to marry, the first two seeking riches and status, but the third, Peggy Ann, only wanting a mate "to be kind and good and to love me. I'd even be content with the Black Bull of Norroway." And, indeed, that's who comes to carry her off on the journey to seek her fortune. Along the way, the bull's kindness and solicitude ease her initial fears. Days into their trip, Peggy Ann notices that the creature is limping and removes a large thorn in his foot. Instantly he transforms into a handsome young man, the Duke of Norroway. The girl's kindness has partially broken a cruel enchantment but the Duke must conquer the Guardian of the Glen to break it forever. Peggy Ann and the Duke face a series of obstacles and a separation of seven years before they are at last reunited. Huck's fine prose makes accessible this tale that appeared in dialect in Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book (Dover, 1965). An author's note provides background on the origins of the story and other sources in which its variants appear. Richly colored watercolor-and-black-pen paintings done in Lobel's signature painterly style provide a dynamic visual presentation. Glossy cream-colored borders set off the pictures to perfection and the smaller vignettes interspersed throughout add variety. A superb addition to all folktale collections.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Huck's and Lobel collaborate again (Toads and Diamonds, 1996, etc.) in a retelling of a very old Scottish tale. Huck's text is powerful and sweet, well-matched by Lobel's theatrically imagined pictures. Three sisters plan their marriages, and the youngest, Peggy Ann, wishes only for a husband who is kind and good—even if he's the Black Bull of Norroway. Naturally the Black Bull appears and takes her away, but he feeds her and chooses the easiest paths as he carries her on his back. They stop at three castles, owned by the Black Bull's three brothers, and each gives Peggy Ann a gift to use when "your heart is like to break and then to break again." When she takes a thorn from the bull's foot, he's restored to his true self as the Duke of Norroway, but only at night until he vanquishes the Guardian of the Glen. Peggy Ann is instructed to sit and wait for him without moving, but when she knows that he's won, her excitement moves her to stand and this makes it impossible for him to locate her. Setting out to find him herself, Peggy Ann is faced with a glass mountain, seven years of apprenticeship, the witch who first placed the Duke under a spell, and the witch's conniving daughter. In the end, she frees her beloved by perseverance and pluck—as well as the three treasures. The story's provenance is carefully traced in an author's note: though set in Norway, Peggy Ann's black braids and references to food and certain physical features clearly set it in the Scots tradition. Lobel's watercolor and ink illustrations are gorgeously rich in patterns: plaids and florals, watery swirls, and jagged peaks. Huck's effort to find "traditional tales that show plucky girls" pays offhere. (Picture book/folktale. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688169008
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.31 (w) x 12.27 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    Just so you know...

    The plot of this book is actually very different from the original fairy tale.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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