Green Mist

Green Mist

by Marcia Sewall

A retelling of a Lincolnshire, England, tale, probably eighteenth-century, in which a dying child is made well by the spring rituals intended to placate the mischievous beings hiding in the earth. See more details below

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A retelling of a Lincolnshire, England, tale, probably eighteenth-century, in which a dying child is made well by the spring rituals intended to placate the mischievous beings hiding in the earth.

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
There's a grand sense of ancient mysteries in this old English tale, which begins by describing how folk beliefs persisted long after people began going to church of a Sunday: "So it was at darkling every night they'd bear lights in their hands and walk round their houses saying words such as they could scarcely understand themselves, wishing to keep the mischancy beings away." Such practices and "secret doings" coexisted with Christianity for hundreds of years. This particular story concerns one family's run of bad luck: a difficult autumn with a dry well and a dry cow are followed by a hard winter that saps one little girl's strength until her parents fear for her life. Finally, with spring, the long-awaited "Green Mist" touches the earth and swirls through the air like a magical fog. Traditional spring rituals are observed; the child's strength is restored. There's not much to the story-nothing but life itself renewed, its priceless worth celebrated in Sewall's beautifully cadenced telling. Her illustrations, too, are unassuming-plain, rectangular scenes of simple farm folk who might have lived in any pre-industrial century, going about their ordinary tasks. And yet every line of these rough, angular figures bespeaks their essential humanity; every farmland scene, in snow or sun, suggests, without sentimentality, the harmony between those who till the soil and the rhythm of the seasons.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A delightful British folktale, retold by a master storyteller. In a source note, Sewall traces the tale back to the 18th century, when people practiced prescribed rituals each season to control the "bogels and all the horrid things that roamed the earth" and made bad things happen. This story tells about one family's experience with these mysterious forces. Despite their faithful adherence to the rituals, a series of misfortunes descends upon them, the worst being a grave illness that afflicts the youngest girl. The only hope for her recovery lies in the coming of spring and the Green Mist, known for its restorative powers. Rescue comes in the nick of time, for the weakened child barely manages to perform the welcoming ritual. It is said that from that day on she "...grew stronger and prettier than ever." Who is to say that it wasn't the power of the Green Mist? The simple, lyrical text, with bits of old language interspersed throughout, is a pleasure to read aloud. The soft watercolor illustrations, mostly in springtime colors, extend the story by showing the rural lifestyle of the day. The book is a welcome addition to folktale collections and also serves as an introduction to some ancient rites of spring.-Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT
Kirkus Reviews
A beguiling retelling of a 19th-century Lincolnshire tale that fairly dances with an impatience to be read aloud. Mouth-filling words dot this story, the context making them easily understood while taking away none of their mystery. Bogles and other horrid things live in the cracks and cinders and sleep in the fields in the old times, and at darkling every night folk walk round their houses with lights in their hands to keep the mischancy beings away. In autumn, "they sang hush-a-bye songs in the fields, for the earth was tired" and they fear the winters when the bogles have nothing to do but make mischief. As the year turns, they wake the earth from its sleeping each spring, and welcome the green mist that brings new growth. In one family, a child pines, longing for the green mist to return with the sun. Through the long winter she grows so weak her mother must carry her to the doorsill, so she can crumble the bread and salt onto the earth to hail the spring. The green mist comes, scented with herbs and green as grass, and the child thrives, once again "running about like a sunbeam." The green, gold, brown, and gray of the watercolors show fields and haycocks, knobby-kneed children and raw-boned elders, a counterpoint to the rich text. (Picture book. 4-9) .

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.63(w) x 9.35(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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