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The Serpent Slayer: and Other Stories of Strong Women Hardcover – September 1, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nothing is more satisfying than watching a valiant hero conquer a dragon, outwit a thief, or destroy a monstrous cannibal--unless it's seeing an intrepid heroine accomplish all these brave feats! In this remarkable anthology by the mother-daughter team of Trina Schart Hyman and Katrin Tchana, 18 stories showcase the courage, cleverness, and integrity of women who dare to go beyond their traditional roles and stand up for themselves and their people. Gleaned from fairy tales from around the world and retold by Tchana to make them "more vivid and vital to her audience," the stories include the tale of Li Chi, a 14-year-old girl who refuses to let a greedy sorcerer continue to sacrifice young girls to a horrible serpent. Clever Marcela is so cunning, she manages to outsmart a king--and fall in love while she's at it. Then there's Amarjit, the barber's wife, who, fed up with her handsome husband's laziness, manages to take matters in her own hands and create fabulous wealth from nothing. Caldecott Award-winner Trina Schart Hyman (Saint George and the Dragon) paints spectacular illustrations, worthy of their esteemed role in capturing both the noble and the grotesque. (Ages 7 to 11) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

From the Chinese tale of Li Chi who slays a serpent and saves her village to the Gambian story of an offbeat wise woman, Hyman (Saint George and the Dragon) and her daughter Tchana here collect 18 inspiring stories about women powerful in might and mind. While Tchana's retellings occasionally get bogged down in complicated or meandering plots, her heroines are uniformly impressive. They handle swords, needles and stew pots with equal skill, marry whom they please and even outwit the devil. A few tales contain odd scenariosAas when the skull of her grandmother tells Neruvana to kill her evil husband or the Sun-Girl chooses to abandon her baby to be with her true husband, the handsome Dragon-Prince. Brief source notes indicate the diverse origins of the stories, but Tchana maintains a consistent tone, emphasizing commonality rather than differences in cultures ("Hey, girl," calls the king to Clever Marcela, and "Hey, Janey," calls the squire in "Duffy the Lady"). The thick, oversize picture book features a single full-page watercolor and an opening spot illustration for each story. Hyman's spirited paintings emphasize bold and determined womenAJudith the pirate surrounded by her crew of court ladies, Vassilissa wrestling the duke's warlordAwhile keeping the details of the tales' settings intact. This is a fairy tale world where one can definitely hear women roar. All ages. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316387010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316387019
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.6 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In The Serpent Slayer And Other Stories Of Strong Women, Katrin Tchana artfully retells classic folktales from around the world which showcase strong women overcoming a diversity of daunting obstacles and fearsome challenges. These wonderful tales include The Barber's Wife; Nesoowa and the Chenoo; Clever Marcela; Sister Lace; The Rebel Princess; Beebyeebyee and the Water God; Kate Crackernuts; The Old Woman and the Devil; The Magic Lake; Grandmother's Skull; Three Whiskers from a Lion's Chin; Duffy the Lady; and the title piece, The Serpent Slayer are all spectacularly illustrated by the talents of Trina Hyman. These very highly recommended, multicultural stories of courage, cleverness, perseverance, and endurance are thoroughly entertaining, even as they hold forth splendid values and possibilities for their young readers as they live their own lives and overcome whatever obstacles or solve what ever problems they encounter while making their way through the world!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In recent years, many collections of "empowered female" fairy tales have sprung up. This book simply happens to be one of the best. There are not many tales, but they are well-chosen, and the versions selected for publication are enjoyable to read. Stories from Africa, Asia, and Armenia (among the many locales) are every bit as accessible to the young American reader as more familiar English and Scottish tales. Hyman's illustrations are, as always, powerful, colorful, evocative, and fascinating--and the editorial comments are exceptionally good. This is a storybook with pictures, but it is very well researched, and the brief explanations of the chosen texts are scholarly, appropriate, and well-documented.

The reading level and subject matter make it appropriate for girls around 10-14; most stories would read aloud well to younger children, but there is no censoring here, and parents who feel squeamish about the verbally graphic dismemberment of a dragon or unwed/extramarital pregnancies would do well to proof their selections. That said, sex and violence are by no means a focus of the collection, nor are they emphasized in illustration. Children flipping through the pictures will not find anything objectionable. Girls who enjoy the novels of Patricia C. Wrede and Robin McKinley will find themselves at home; those new to folk collections will be hooked. If only they were all this good.

Highly recommended.
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By Xeneri on September 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At last! A series of stories from around the globe written by a mother and daughter team all about female heroes (not heroines, mind you, but heroes.)
Featured in these pages are all kinds of women who are plucky, smart, resourceful, brave and just plain smart. This is just the sort of anthology to give to your daughters, to inspire and help them conquer their own life adventures. A very satisfying read for girls of all ages.
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By Sarah on December 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this day and age, young girls are bombarded with not-so positive images of midriffs, barbies, and some rather unwholesome popstars. The "Serpent Slayer" offers a refreshing change of perspecitve. This book is a collection of tales from around the world, retold in an up to date, easy to understand and yet beautifully written format. The stories are specifically about strong, clever women. The illustrations are excellent and the main characters are uncompromising. The tales have classic fairy tale plots; dragons, thieves, mythical gods, and lions (oh my!). At only a couple pages each, a story can be read aloud in a reasonable amount of time, making them perfect for bedtime. Although I recommend this specifically for girls, I am sure children of any gender and age would be equally enthralled. I know I was! Buy this book! We need more like it.
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By Kim M on October 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this book of strong women and my daughter is entranced. Stories are graphic along the lines of Grimm's Fairy Tales - we're a Waldorf family so this was just fine but some families may want to preview the stories before reading them aloud.
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By A Customer on November 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This fabulously illustrated, enlightening story book is interesting to children of all sexes: in fact, I've given this twice as gifts to boys and they are as entertained by the tales of these heroines as they would have been by Robin Hood or St. George.
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Format: Hardcover
A great book for girls and women of all ages! I had this for my girls who are grow now, I am getting it for young girls of friends and family. It gave my girls such a positive self image they are all working or careers or academics and I do not think I will have Grandchildren for a long time!
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Format: Hardcover
I loved all the stories in this book. My favorites were The Rebel Princess, The Magic Lake, and Staver and Vassilissa. The stories are from around the world; Scotland, China, Gambia, Central America etc. Each story includes two beautiful illustrations; one is a full page size. Women of all different ages and personality types are shown. None of the stories are ones I heard before so it was fun to be pleasantly surprised with each page. I recommend this book to all.
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