Review also includes:
The Clever Rat and other African Tales, ****, retold by Suzi Lewis-Barned, ill. Karen Perrins, 112pp, 978-1857142532
These two books both contain retellings of traditional stories most of which have not had a particularly wide circulation before the current publications. The former offers a story each from Croatia, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Russia, Slovakia and Romania; the agricultural labouring traditions from which they emerge are evident in tales of toiling peasants, shepherd kings and the implacable rule of the seasons. This is a timely selection which might help to interest children in less familiar regions of Europe. The latter collection is drawn from a 1930s collection of Swahili stories with borrowings from the Arabian Nights, and it consists of cleverly concise fables mingled with tales of human trickery.
Both books are very good value: they are robust and large format, with clear texts and expansive, colourful, dramatic illustrations.