Jan Andrews draws on folk stories from around the world to build her newest collection of tales, rife with humor and tingling with action. Cleverly threaded together by verses describing the arrival of unbidden stories that enter boldly through the door and stay just long enough to have their say, these tales have been rendered anew by a master storyteller. In “Jesper and the Jackrabbits,” simple wits add up to wonderful wisdom — and rich reward. “Jacinth Wins Words” will spark hilarity, as two sisters compete ...
Jan Andrews draws on folk stories from around the world to build her newest collection of tales, rife with humor and tingling with action. Cleverly threaded together by verses describing the arrival of unbidden stories that enter boldly through the door and stay just long enough to have their say, these tales have been rendered anew by a master storyteller. In “Jesper and the Jackrabbits,” simple wits add up to wonderful wisdom — and rich reward. “Jacinth Wins Words” will spark hilarity, as two sisters compete with surprising and malodorous weapons. The cumulative “Cat and Mouse Tale” is nonsensical fun while “Jacinth Finds Fear” points up what is really important and worth dwelling on. “Jane Saves the Day” is one-upmanship at its best and demonstrates just how powerful underdogs can be. A wonderful addition to anyone’s library, Stories at the Door points up our human foibles in the nicest of ways and reminds us all not to take ourselves too seriously. Highly amusing drawings peppered throughout heighten the experience all the more.
Unlike some re-told tales that like to explore the darker side of fairy land, Andrews adds an extra bit of silliness to her stories. Children and adults will love reading aloud these bizarre tales of magic farts, impossibly curly hair, and a young girl’s quest to find fear. True fairy tale fanatics will recognize the origins of these re-told stories, and those who cannot will appreciate the brief explanations about each one that are provided at the back of the book. This section, entitled “Notes on Sources,” not only gives the title of the original work but also the collection or anthology in which it can be found. Educators may find this useful for a unit on the evolution on storytelling, while academics may find it a useful resource for a comparison paper. The most recognizable of all the tales is probably “Jamilla Finds Fear,” which is based on “The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was,” a story first set down in writing by the Brothers Grimm. Reviewer: Jamie E. West
Canadian yarnspinner Andrews offers tellable Anglicized versions of six lighthearted folktales drawn from diverse traditions. Though several feature familiar elements, such as a lad who can herd hares with the aid of a magic whistle or a haunted house in which body parts tumble down the chimney at night, reworked details give every entry a distinctive character. At least two have the potential to become storytime favorites: "Jacinthe Wins Words," in which a generous sister and an ungenerous one both receive just deserts from their farts, and "Jane Saves The Day," about a clever servant who outwits a dangerously workaholic genie. Blake's blotchy, broadly comic cartoons illustrate both the stories themselves and the short welcome poems that open each one. Good source notes cap a better-than-average collection. (Folktales. 10-12)
Jan Andrews lives down the end of a road on a lake and has a passion for the Canadian wilderness. As a storyteller, she has a particular love for the traditional folk and fairy tales. She has read from the world’s great epics and, during summer weekends, has organized complete retellings of both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Her writing comes out of a conviction that young people can find, within themselves, all they need to manage in their lives. She also knows the power of humor as a means of finding the way through the darkness and delights in a rollicking good tale. She is the author of ten books for children, several of which have been shortlisted for major awards.
Francis Blake has been an illustrator for as long as he can remember. His artwork has appeared in magazines, books, and advertising materials across North America, Europe, and Asia. He is the illustrator of From Head to Toe and The A-Z of Everyday Things, both published by Tundra Books.