Mother and Daughter Tales by Josephine Evetts-Secker, Helen Cann |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Mother and Daughter Tales

Mother and Daughter Tales

by Josephine Evetts-Secker, Helen Cann
Entertaining folk and fairy tales from around the world focus on girls who learn from their mothers to face life with a spirit of adventure, kindness, and courage.

This book brings together mother and daughter tales from all over the world. Each of the stories has a distinctive theme and flavor, but all of them share a way of looking at the feminine that embraces


Entertaining folk and fairy tales from around the world focus on girls who learn from their mothers to face life with a spirit of adventure, kindness, and courage.

This book brings together mother and daughter tales from all over the world. Each of the stories has a distinctive theme and flavor, but all of them share a way of looking at the feminine that embraces both dark and light, good and evil, showing us that the path to maturity requires learning how to deal with all aspects of life, and living wholeheartedly, with courage, generosity, and openness to change.

The heroines of these stories include familiar figures such as "Demeter and Persephone," from ancient Greece; "Vasilisa the Beautiful," from Russia; and "Naomi and Ruth," from the Jewish tradition. There are also less familiar tales, among them "The Waterfall of White Hair," from China; "Great Mother Earthquake," from the Iroquois; and "The Girl and Her Godmother," from Norway. All of the stories deal with themes that challenge and guide us on many levels: the death of a beloved parent, the jealousy of a stepmother, the necessary hardship that often attends the passage to mature womanhood. At the same time, they show us how joy can arrive at the most unexpected moments, and how courage and adventure can fill every girl's life.

Drawing on the collective wisdom of many generations, this is a book for mothers and daughters of today to share and to celebrate both together and as individuals weaving the story of their own lives.

Other Details: 80 full-color illustrations 80 pages 8 1/2 x 8 1/2" Published 1996

"This beautiful book is a treat for the eyes and the soul." —The Story Bag National Storytelling Newsletter

Author Biography: Josephine Evetts-Secker teaches English Literature at The University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A practising Jungian analyst, she has made a study of the feminine in folk and fairy tale from both a literary and a psychological perspective for many years. The Barefoot Book of Mother & Daughter Tales is her first book for children.

Helen Cann was born in 1969. She trained at the School of Art, University of Wales, graduating in 1992. Since then, she has worked as an illustrator and artist, exhibiting in several European countries. Her work is in private collections in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, The United Kingdom and The United States. Helen Cann lives in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Part of the Abbeville Anthology series, this pedestrian retelling of 10 folktales from around the world, all about mothers and daughters, is given a critical boost by Cann's luxuriant illustrations. Evetts-Secker's foreword and endnotes founder with the weight of jargon and specious pronouncements: "The godmother is not an actual goddess, but carries similar energy, compensating for the spiritual poverty of the girl's birth mother," or "[the stories] reflect what it is to be a natural and spiritual woman." Including familiar stories from European traditions as well as less well-known Chinese, Iroquois and Turkish tales, the retellings often rely on clichs. In the space of a few sentences, for example, the author describes how nymphs "fled in fright," as Demeter, whose heart is "froze[n] with fear," is also "frantic with fear." Cann's delicate watercolors include an inviting montage of motifs from various cultures. Surrounding each tale are intricate borders that feature, variously, red Chinese dragons, pale Japanese apple blossoms or vivid Eastern European embroidery patterns. While her figures occasionally look stiff or awkward, Cann's strong and inventive designs seem to burst from each page. Ages 6-12. (Oct.)

Product Details

Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date:
Abbeville Anthology Series
Product dimensions:
8.96(w) x 10.76(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
8 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt


These stories are about mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, godmothers, foster mothers, and mothers-in-law as they weave their mysterious relationships with their maturing daughters.

The tales come from many different cultures; but each gives us vivid images of being a daughter and a mother, with the blessings and contradictions experienced in being either, or both. When the bond between mother and daughter is strong and the mother has been an effective role model, then the daughter can experience her mother within herself as an inner strength. This is the effect of the good mother in many stories, where the mother gives something of herself to her child before death. For mothers must "die" and daughters must be prepared to leave the protection of home and to be alone.

Every daughter must have an adventure; she needs to create her own story to become her own person. No matter how much mothers, anxious for their daughters' safety or success, insist that they "go straight" to their destination, daughters must always take their own circuitous route, and mothers can only watch and suffer, or watch and rejoice.

These tales are never afraid of life as it is; they tackle directly such emotions as jealousy, hatred, and cruelty, suggesting that they are a part of life; they must be owned, not wished away. And we must sometimes enter the murky depths of our own forests to encounter the devouring energy of the paradoxical Baba Yaga, who is both devouring and creative. Death is ground for life and renewal, most vividly enacted in the myth of Persephone.

The tales I have gathered here are about preparation and readiness for union with and unity within the cosmos. This is whatfalling in love in fairy tales evokes, and their narratives guide, compel, or drag us towards integration. These daughters seek union and community as vibrant and increasingly autonomous young women, who can lie, disobey, love, and create, in whatever ways are necessary to foster life. They must often suffer an enforced isolation which becomes a time of incubation; for inwardness must balance extraverted action.

The stories can be ascribed to no originating author. For centuries they have been told and retold within and across national boundaries. They appear in many forms, suggesting that certain ideas and experiences are universal. Knowledge of these tales helps us to create meaningful experience out of the inadvertent happenings of our lives, and to see pattern in randomness. In my retellings, I have tried to maintain the universal qualities of myth and folk/fairy tale, while allowing for local color and custom, as we move from country to country, with all their varieties of social order, religious belief, and geography. I have tried, wherever possible, to be faithful to the earliest records I found, while remaining open to the many individual versions I have read or heard.

These stories live by "endless mutation." A Native American tale claims that the source of story is the "story-telling stone," which says to its first listeners, "Some of you will remember every word I say, some will remember a part of the words, and surely some will forget them all. Hereafter, you must tell these stories to each other . you must keep them for as long as the world lasts." This collection hopes to obey that stone's imperative.

Josephine Evetts-Secker

Calgary, Alberta 1996

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