Goblins and ghosts are not the only elusive phantoms this season. "Like whispered rumors of strange happenings," the eight tales in The Hidden Folk: Stories of Fairies, Gnomes, Selkies, and Other Secret Beings by Lise Lunge-Larsen, illus. by Beth Krommes, were "originally told as fact," according to the author's source note. The tales of mysterious Northern European creatures inspire enchanting scratchboard illustrations in a folk-art tradition, featuring ruddy, rotund humans while brightly clad fairies lurk among leaf fronds and selkies take refuge in the sea. ( Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
According to Lunge-Larsen, these stories of little, often invisible, Northern European people were often told as fact. As such, they were brief or anecdotal. She has fleshed them out into short, intriguing stories about a wide variety of folk. Each section begins with the author's introduction to the folk, followed by at least one story illustrating its nature, while entertaining the reader. As she states in the introduction, "Hidden folk are as varied in character as we are." They may be kind and gentle, quickly angered, or resentful; some live near us, while others prefer to be far away. Most are sensed at an "in-between" time. The stories are enchantingly told; asides in the margins increase understanding of the particular folk's nature, habitat, or abilities. Richly colored scratchboard illustrations, done in a folk art style, help the reader's understanding of the story and possibly its humor. The borders for each section's introduction include elements or motifs of importance to each folk. Source notes are included. This book is indeed a gem, to be treasured again and again. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 6 to 10.
These very brief tales offer insight and warning: where you might find the hidden folk, how to treat them, and what might happen if you use them badly. From the flower fairies, readers learn how lily of the valley came to be, the uses of tulips and why parsley is bitter. A boy who mistreats the farm gnome called a "nisse" learns, tossed and muddied, why this is not a good idea. River sprites behind waterfalls teach fiddle-playing, but with a catch, and the selkie story is a familiar one to those who have seen The Secret of Roan Inish. These small, delightful tales are fabulously illustrated by Krommes's scratchboard pictures. She fills the linear patterns inherent in scratchboard design with rich and brilliant color, at once cozy and majestic. It's very easy to see elves, gnomes, and dwarves being comfortable in such places. (source note, references) (Folktales. 5-9)
The author draws on a rich tradition of legends and myths, retelling them in an accessible manner that will captivate readers.
School Library Journal, Starred
The intimate and chatty tone of the text...encourages confidence in the teller's veracity and repeated reading of the collection.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The tales of mysterious Northern European creatures inspire enchanting scratchboard illustration in a folk-tradition.
These small, delightful tales are fabulously illustrated...it's very easy to see elves, gnomes, and dwarves being comfortable in such places.
Professional storyteller Lunge-Larsen presents eight short tales, retold or intevented, featuring magical creatures that lurk just out of sight...Krommes provides handsome borders and stylized full-page illustrations that give this gathering a suitably folktale feel.