Three fairytale collections bring some magic into the season. The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales, retold by Malachy Doyle, illus. by Nicoletta Ceccoli, gathers tales from 12 different countries. Slightly surreal, gossamer-light paintings depict the 12 dancing princesses descending a seemingly endless staircase and the sensual star of Spain's "The Girl Who Became a Fish" as she transforms back into her human shape. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
This anthology contains twelve fairytales from around the world (even though five are from Germany). These tales definitely have their own personality. For example, when the stepsisters are telling Cinderella what to do, she must "cut my toenails!" When the soldier solves the puzzle of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses," he chooses to marry the "eldest. . . for she seemed the most sensible," but it is the youngest princess who knew they were being followed. The eldest only said, "don't be such a goose, it's only our princes, shouting for joy because they know we're on the way." Also, there are little morals thrown into the stories. For example, in "Rumpelstiltskin" the author tells the reader, "for you know what it is like--once you are caught in a lie, it is the devil of a job to wriggle out of it." Even with all the quirks of the stories, the illustrations match perfectly. It is common for a character's hair to be a tinge of green, blue, or purple. The reader does not think twice about the bear in "Snow-White and Rose-Red" being a nice shade of blue. All in all, this is a good addition to a nice collection of fairytales. 2005, Barefoot Books, Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 5-Doyle has turned his fluent pen to the retelling of 12 folktales: five from Germany, and one each from Spain, France, Ukraine, China, Argentina, and what he calls "Native America" and "Arabia." Unfortunately the language he employs in his narrations is no more culturally specific than the broad labels on the table of contents. So the Ukrainian Fool of the World looks down from his flying ship and says to the man below, "Sure, you've a basketful of it on your back already!" And the heads of the terrifying man-eating fish in the Chinese story "The Jeweled Sea" are described as being "twice the size of a football." Such turns of phrase do not actually injure the plots of the tales, but they detract from the ethnic atmosphere that might have enhanced them further. The playful, colorful acrylic-and-pastel illustrations likewise err on the side of a comfortable lack of specificity. Ceccoli's human figures, with their minimally rendered expressions and rounded shapes, resemble interchangeable figures in a dollhouse set. Taken as a whole, the collection may serve as a read-aloud, but it should not be relied upon as an accurate representation of the folklore of any of the cultures from which Doyle drew the stories.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.