From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 1-4–In her introduction to this collection of magical tales, Lunge-Larsen traces the history of those "beings whose presence we feel but whom we cannot see." She explains that, like humans, "Some are kind and gentle; some are quick to anger and resentment," but all are hidden away. They are most likely to show themselves during "in-between" times, appearing at Midsummer Night's Eve or the winter solstice, or during the transitions from dusk to night and from dawn to day. Focusing on tales from northern Europe, the book is divided into sections on flower fairies, gnomes, hill folk, elves, dwarves, water horses, river sprites, and selkies. Each chapter begins with an overview and contains one or two brief stories. Genial asides appear in the margins and further elucidate each magical creature. The author draws on a rich tradition of legends and myths, retelling them in an accessible manner that will captivate readers. Handsome scratchboard illustrations decorate the pages with stylized figures and landscapes. The vivid hues and interesting textures make an eye-catching combination. Descriptive borders herald each section and highlight motifs related to its subject (e.g., the paragraphs on dwarves are framed by anvils, pick axes, shovels, etc.). A source note puts the tales in perspective.–Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
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Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. Professional storyteller and educator Lunge-Larsen presents eight short tales, retold or invented, featuring the magical creatures that lurk just out of sight. Drawing inspiration from northern European folklore and fragmentary family anecdotes, she explains parsley's bitter taste as the spit of angry Flower Fairies and crafts encounters with a dangerous Water Horse, a dwarf king who repays a poor man's act of kindness with a never-emptied purse, and more. A version of "The Selkie Wife," which is close to its traditional antecedents, seems to want source notes, but there's really enough new material here that the lack of notes is forgivable--and the author does append a bibliography of relevant collections and reference works. Using jewel-tone colors and a scratchboard technique, Krommes provides handsome borders and stylized full-page illustrations that give this gathering a suitably folktale feel. John Peters
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