Monday, October 25, 2010

Around the World in 80 Tales

Around the World in 80 Tales
By Saviour Pirotta
Illustrated by Richard Johnson
For ages 4 to 12

Eighty traditional tales retold - wow! This absolute gem had to be picked up as soon as we spotted it!

The book is divided continent-wise, and you start the journey in North America with a story from the USA about a lad named Jack who is off to seek his fortune. This is followed by the Canadian tale of a lost hunter and a great white bear, a tale about the Sioux of the Dakota plains and one each from Hawaii, Jamaica, Cuba and Mexico. There is also one from African-American folklore.

As you travel around the continent through these tales, each no more than two or three pages, you get a complete picture of the variety of cultures thriving there. The length and content is perfect for someone as young as four and yet captivating enough for an older reader to not want to the book down till the end. The illustrations by Richard Johnson are stunning and will make you want to gaze at them for long as you go away to far-off lands. There is a beautiful map of the world at the front/end of the book, to guide you along as you go about on your voyage.

We next travel southwards and enter South America via the Venezulan tale of the Rainbow Snake, in which we are told about how the birds were all gray in the beginning and why it all changed. We travel through eight more countries before we end in Chile and read about a monk’s treasure. In these stories  there is often mention of one or several of many bird and animal species that thrive in this region. A perfect place to dip into when you are studying the bio-diversity of the continent.

We then hop across the Atlantic. Starting with an English tale, we wind our way through Europe via twenty stories about German dwarfs, Belgian lacemakers, French millers and many other interesting folk. We end in Turkey to read a tale about Naseeruddin Hodja (remember him anyone?!). Along the way we stop for a story about figs in Malta - which is where the author is from, though he now lives in the UK. This one reminded us of the sweet and juicy figs we’d eaten by the dozen in Malta.

Next stop - Africa! First a tale from the land of Pharoahs, on to Morocco, Sudan and Ethiopia, via Kenya to Botswana and South Africa in the south. We journey through about fifteen countries and of course many of them feature the great beasts of the region - lions and elephants, hyenas and giraffes, cheetahs and warthogs.

Moving across the borders of the continents into Asia, we start in Israel and travel from the western part of Asia to the central and southern parts. The tale from India is about four magicians and a tiger (what else?!). We read about dragons, crocodiles and parrots in stories from China and the lands in the Far East.

And then we fly across the oceans and land in Australia to read a tale about a boomerang in the bush, one from the land of the Kiwis about the kiwi bird and one each about a turtle and a shark from the island nations in the Pacific.

I can go on and on and tell you about each tale. But I will stop here and just repeat what I had said before - the book is an excellent resource to explore the vast variety of cultures of our world. It also makes you realise that though there are many things unique to every culture we are all not very different - we laugh at and get moved by similar things, our fears are not very different and what we cherish is also ultimately the same.

Image courtesy here


artnavy said...

This book ties in so beautifully with our theme and the last lines of your review reminded me of Mem Fox's Whoever you are

sandhya said...

Wonderful how the diversity yet similarity in all the tales came across in your review, Chox. As also the inclusion of ancient and the newer folktales-African American folktales must surely be not more than 500 yrs old-that's pretty recent for a book of this scope.

Have been hearing of this book from you for a while now. A visit to your place is confirmed for some time after crocus. Expect to see A and me turning up at your doorstep!

And will that be Mulla Nasseruddin?

Tharini said...

Wow. And in how many sittings did you finish the book? It sounds like a fun series book that could keep you engrossed for a whole month or more! And I am very curious about that beautiful map you are talking about! :)

Vibha said...

Chox, this is just excellent. Exactly what I was looking for these days for R and M. Such wide diversity in one world. Amazing.

Choxbox said...

Art: Would love to read that one from Mem Fox! Each of her works is a treat! And thanks.

Sandhya: Look fwd to it!

Tharini: The older child sailed around the world in one sitting. The younger one - we read one tale at a time, so have many lands to stop by still!
Wish we had an ST library, I want all the books reviewed in CROCUS!

Vibha: Will try and get you a copy. Have gifted this one at least ten times to people - for a long time it used to be my top birthday gift item!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi to all the contributors of the Saffron Tree Blog. You have one AMAZING blog here with fabulous book recommendations.

I have added myself to your followers and look forward to reading more wonderful posts from you all.

Around the World in 80 Tales sounds my kind of a book. Will have to add it to my TBR pile. Thanks for introducing me to this lovely book.


Choxbox said...

Welcome here Rachna.

Hopped over to your blog - nice! Will be checking often.
And this book, yes, it is indeed one you will love.

Meera Sriram said...

Its great when a book like this spans a wide age grp! Am going to add this to my crocus list!

Anusha said...

sounds like a must-own! perfect pick for CROCUS. thanks, Chox!

utbtkids said...

Yes, same question as T. How many sittings did you finish this book?

Will definitely look out for this.

ranjani.sathish said...

Fantastic chox...I love the whole idea of this book. It seems to have a wealth of information too (in the form of stories ofcourse !). I am sure both the kids would love this book. Will check it out in the library.

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