Celebrating Fairy Tales From Around the World – Monkey Mini Reviews of a Time for Telling and a World of Fairy Tales

Way back in the last decade (*ahem* I mean last year 😉 ) I got into a discussion on fairy tales– defending them against the spurious claims that they aren’t diverse enough… which seemed somewhat ludicrous to me given there’s a whole world of fairy tales out there, outside the Western canon (I know, shocker 😉). Well, today I have the opportunity to prove my point further! Because while I was moving house, I came across a couple of old children’s books. Aside from fuelling a little nostalgia and thinking they’d be great for my nephews, I thought they were so lovely that they were worth sharing with all of you.

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Time for Telling– kicking off the collection on “The King with Dirty Feet”, I was instantly glad I’d taken this trip down memory lane. What’s great about this collection is how it walks you through simple concepts, like the origins of shoes, and elevates them. It makes the world a richer place. Add to that the wonderful illustrations by Sue Williams and I thought this book was a real winner! Another massive positive is how great the rhythm is for children- they’re written in a way that rolls off the tongue, designed to be read aloud. Some of my personal highlights were: “Loawnu Mends the Sky”, with its excellent imagery and patchwork of beautiful ideas; the “Clever Rabbit and King Lion”, because I can’t help but root for the underdog; and “The Great Rain” for its sheer magic. Of course, as with every anthology, there were a mix of stories, some of which I wasn’t as keen on, but overall, I thought all the stories were beautifully told and very much enjoyed the immersive experience.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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World of Fairy Tales– this immediately takes us on a voyage from Australia to the Arctic. Even better, these initial tales gave the feeling of the world waking up. From these origins, the stories then became populated with animals, mirroring an entire creation myth. As with Time for Telling, I had some personal favourites, including “Giants of St Michael’s Mount” and “Maui and the Great Fish”. There was also the added bonus of this having a few familiar tales, like “Beauty and the Beast”. I absolutely loved that this very much embraced the world of stories out there- not neglecting any corner. It was also quite novel that each of these tales came with explanations about their origins, really giving an interesting insight into cultures from which they arose. Now, I did feel this lent itself to a drier tone, which I imagine wouldn’t be as evocative for children. The smaller font also seems a little less kid-friendly. That said, the subtle illustrations had a real charm and I got a lot out of this as an adult. I’d say the order of these tales was the books’ greatest strength- beginning with the birth of the world and ending on a journey- as all good stories should.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Okay reviewing children’s books is a little out of my comfort zone- but I hope that sparked some interest! What I’d like to know today is if you have any favourite myths or fairy tales from around the world? Let me know in the comments!

20 thoughts on “Celebrating Fairy Tales From Around the World – Monkey Mini Reviews of a Time for Telling and a World of Fairy Tales

      1. I inherited it from my late Mum’s collection – she owned something like 1,000 books on fairy stories, fantasy and mythology, including many anthologies of myths and stories from cultures around the world, a really unique collection. I have some, including all the Joseph Campbell texts.

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  1. It stuns me to think someone would think fairytales are not diverse enough…what intrigues me is how cultural lore adapts and changes over time depending on the perspective or tribe.

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  2. I think I’ve mentioned Andrew Lang’s coloured Fairy Books before which collect and retell a dizzying number of tales from numerous cultures, mostly European, but also African, Indian, and Australian Aboriginal tales.
    The sheer number of them–there were twenty-five in all–is pretty dizzying, but they’re a wonderful resource for studying fairy tales.

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  3. My favourite stories are folk, fairytales, myths and legends. Reread as many as I could at uni whilst discovering African and Indian tales too. I love Fitcher’s Vogel (similar to Bluebeard) and finding retellings all around the world

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  4. I haven’t given fairytales much thought, but your post is interesting. I mean, I like folk and fairytales, although I’d rather watch than read. The covers of these books are so vibrant. I can see a child enjoying them.

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