From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up–The birds in these five well-crafted folktales possess wisdom, are engaged in trickery, or teach lessons about sorrow or jealousy. And the lovely, secretive swans are village ancestors transformed upon dying as humans. Collected at the International Folklore Workshop at the University of Maryland, the stories might be viewed as contemporary manifestations of the oral tradition. All are remembered from childhoods spent far away in Australia, China, Matabeleland, Norway, and Sri Lanka. Smoothly polished and beautifully illustrated, the narratives portray characters, themes, and magical elements familiar in folklore. A pelican that owns the only fishnet in the world and a troublesome troll with an intriguing scarf of live crows will interest children in the early grades. The greater complexities and subtleties of the other three will pique the interest of older readers and listeners. The Dillons have broadly adapted folk motifs into selected scenes from each story. Thick outlines and muted colors suggest the wax-resist printing common to textiles in several of these countries. This collection offers versatile possibilities for use across the curriculum as well as inviting tales for personal enjoyment, reading aloud, and storytelling. A concluding essay identifies the actual contributors and offers personal information about them.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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Gr. 3-7. In Between Heaven
's closing note, adult novelist and folklore translator Norman introduces his sources: five adult students in his folklore class who, together, contributed and shaped the stories about birds. The result is a collection of stories that are rich in cultural references from the lands of their origins: China, India, Australia, Norway, and Sri Lanka. Younger children may need help with some of the tales' cultural background, sophisticated language, and symbolism, and the stories' sometimes unfocused pacing may not hold the attention of children accustomed to more tightly structured tales. Still, the Dillons' luminous watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, detailed with patterns drawn from each tale's culture of origin, will draw readers and listeners back to the stories. . Teachers will want this for reading aloud or inspiring students to create their own folktale compilations. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved