Posts tagged ‘folklore’


GREEK GODS: Myths, Legends and Ancient History 3rd edition

Written by Roy Jackson

This book of fewer than 100 pages is one of the easiest to follow that I have read on the subject. As a history major, I spent lots of time incorporating related studies in religion, literature, and culture. Most writers approach the subject of Greek gods in a genealogical fashion. Jackson’s approach is to classify them into groups according to the roles they performed. While he logically begins with the primordial deities followed by creation myths and the Titans, he rapidly moves on to the more familiar names of the Olympian Pantheon and some of the well-known myths. Homer’s gods of the underworld familiar to readers of the Odyssey are discussed as well as the sea gods like Poseidon so integral to a nation of seafaring inhabitants. Many religions were tied to the agricultural gods, Demeter, and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Jackson discusses Aesculapius, the god of medicine, as well as winged and sea creatures like the Sphinx, Minotaur, and Chimera.

This book is perfect for children in the middle grades who are intrigued with the folklore but do not want or need unnecessary details. It gives a solid foundation for readers who will later be better prepared to graduate to reading the classics. Recommended for readers ages eight and older.

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Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure

Written by Lynelle Woolley

Illustrated by Karen Wolcott


Another book in the Flower Girl World series. Iris Campbell and her mom are reminiscing about the time Iris served as a flower girl in a wedding with two other girls named Rosie and Starr. Though they had never previously met, the girls became fast friends and formed the Flower Girl Club. Iris is delighted when her mother informs her that the family will be traveling to Hawaii for her cousin Jay’s wedding and that she has been invited to be flower girl once more.

Iris immerses herself in Hawaiian culture. Each member of the family is assigned a task to prepare for the wedding. Hana, the bride’s sister and the other flower girl, decides to take a short cut because she is tired of string flower petals for the leis. She convinces Iris to conspire with her to ask the Menehune spirits to help. Instead they are hit with a massive storm that throws the wedding preparations in chaos and forces everyone to start over. Hana’s efforts continue to lead the girls into trouble. When Hana’s older sister is injured, Iris must take her place in the hula wedding dance. Each of the flower girls learn important lessons. Will the wedding celebration turn out to be successful?

This is a charming chapter book for young girls who a re learning to read and love weddings. I would certainly have enjoyed a series like this because, I too, was enamored with weddings at that age. Illustrations are charming, and the insight into Hawaiian customs and culture add to its value as a multicultural choice for young readers. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to nine age group.

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Mr. Boggarty:The Halloween Grump (Spooky Adventure for Kids 9-12)

Written by Tevin Hansen



The question on the cover sets the main plot. Can Trix and her friends escape the Lime Green Ghost of Lincoln County? At first, I found the layout strange. The author chose to introduce each of the main characters in a separate chapter. Then he proceeds to explain Halloween customs in different countries. Finally, he gets to the subject of eggs and the plot that the five friends have hatched for this upcoming Halloween. Last, bit not least he sets the scene with each of their customs and moves to Mr. Boggarty’s house on Halloween night.

Trixie, Frank, Darby, Darren, and Preston crouch behind the tree in Mr. Boggarty’s front yard and prepare to ring the doorbell. When Darren “chickens out,” Trix cautiously turns the doorknob and the five friends find themselves inside. At first the house seems normal, but soon they see a lit jack-o-lantern on the table. Deciding to throw their rotten eggs inside the house, they are paralyzed with fear when the door slams shut and the lights go out.

Suddenly the fifth-graders are confronted with a bright green flying ghost. He orders them to kneel down and informs them he has just stolen the soul of Mr. Boggarty. He gives them a history lesson about the Great Depression But the worse news is yet to come. The children have been selected to be the new Demons of Lincoln County; they will be sent to school to learn how to be ruthless, evil and diabolical creatures who prey on poor farming communities like the one they live in now. The ghost’s brothers and sisters will arrive at six o’clock to whisk them away forever. As a thunderstorm rages outside the house, the five friends await their fate.

The plot has a ending with a surprise twist. Hansen takes his time building up to the main plot, but keeps the suspense going once the children arrive in the house. Middle grade students will enjoy the diversity of the characters, the humor, and the scary story line. Good choice for a Halloween party or a classroom read aloud. The dialogue is easy to read and the length of just over 130 pages is a good fit for reluctant readers.

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5 Minute Bedtime Stories for Children (1)

Retold by Beatrice Wood


The author is not trying to reinvent the wheel, but to collate and abridge a nice assortment of stories from around the world in five to seven minute segments. Just the right size for a busy mom or dad for a bedtime story read. They are suitable for school age children ages six through twelve and are not meant for toddlers or preschoolers. While all of them have familiar themes to many cultures; ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes” will probably be recognized by all readers.

I think my favorite of these ten is the one titled, “The Story Without an End.” It tells the legend of a king who lived in a time before there were printed storybooks. This king had an insatiable appetite for stories. After a while, his subjects ran out of stories to tell. The king promised that whoever would tell a story that did not end could marry the princess. Unfortunately, if the story ended, that storyteller would be thrown in jail.

One day a poor farmer showed up with the promise of a story without end. But first the king had to promise to listen to the end. After receiving that promise from the king, the farmer began his tale, which was so cleverly crafted that it went on for months. When the king could take it no longer, he begged the farmer to stop telling his story. So the farmer married the princess and eventually ruled the kingdom.

Each story is accompanied by a black and white pencil drawing to complement the tale. This is a nice touch and provides encouragement of more discussion on the topic of each story. Creative and novel way for parent and child or teacher and child to share a short read aloud. Look forward to reading Book 2 in the collection.

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Jonathan’s Locket

Written by Lorraine Carey

Jonathan's Locket, pic

I was immediately captured by this short work of historical fiction. It is based on an actual shipwreck called The Wreck of the Ten Sails which took place in 1794. Carey has managed to portray the setting of the past and the setting of the future two hundred years later in one enjoyable tale.

At the outset we meet Jonathan Palmer, an orphan living in Port Royal, Jamaica, who desperately seeks to learn the identity of his mother. He has been befriended by a seaman named Peter who assists him in becoming a stowaway on a British merchant ship. Jonathan hopes to get to England to find his birth mother. His most valuable possession is a gold locket with a wisp of her blonde hair that has somehow found its way to him at the orphanage. Once aboard the ship, Peter surreptitiously reveals the truth to Jonathan just before the ship named the Convert strikes a reef and sinks off the shores of the Cayman Islands.

The story shifts to modern times and a new protagonist named Brandon Wallace who lives on Cayman Island. He is a fifteen year old who loves diving, but seems to have all the problems of a teen struggling to grow up. His friend Jason is moving in on his girl, he is in trouble at school and with his parents for cutting class, his sister, Murielle smugly taunts him while remaining the favorite child. But suddenly Jonathan experiences a tugging toward investigating the story of the wreck. Then he begins to feel a choking sensation around his neck, and unexplained physical visions around the site. A sea turtle named Mallock guides him to swim to the old wreck. What is happening to Brandon and why does he feel such a compelling need to solve a two hundred year old mystery?

This book combines the elements of adventure, fantasy, folklore, history and the problems of a teen coming of age. Tweens, teens and adults will all find a unique interweaving of these elements. I could not put the book down and had to read it in one sitting and  could not wait to see what would happen next. One hundred pages that are definitely worth reading!

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Essie’s Kids and The Rolling Calf -3:Island Style Ghost Story

Written by Dr. & Mrs. Luke Brown


I came across this e book as a promotion. I had not read the first two books in the planned five book series. This third short story is a strange combination of Jamaican folklore, adventures, and moral lessons that pleasantly surprised me. It makes a good addition to a classroom multicultural library. The book is well written with lots of colorful verbs, analogies and descriptive language though I did find one typo in which the word joint was used for the verb join. A smattering of Jamaican lingo like the word, “mon” also provides an authentic touch.

At the outset, the reader meets Karl who is tossing in his bed because he is haunted by the memory of the dreadful beast known as a rolling calf , a large swift running creature with dragon like eyes who voices terrifying sounds. Karl has met this creature in previous stories and now is anxiously awaiting to confront him once and for all. When he finally succumbs to sleep, he dreams that he is tiptoeing down the ghost-like streets at night. Suddenly, his brother Leonard shakes him; Karl realizes it is all a nightmare.

Karl’s family has journeyed from the city of Montego Bay to their country home in Clear Mont for the summer. His sisters, Myrtle, Geena and Betty play hopscotch and jump rope, while the boys play tag in the front yard. The author contrasts nicely the differences between the “city” and “country” folks. The country children wear plain clothes and no shoes. City kids are teased for being cowardly and not willing to get dirty. In the end, both learn to give and take and respect each others skills and differences.

Junior’s best friend here is named Ben. He encourages Junior to come to the river and fish. Junior realizes his mother will probably say no, so he hesitantly decides to slip away without asking permission. Ben meets up with his friends, Johnny, Dave and Jasper, who he calls “bad company” because they always manage to get him in trouble. The girls, on the other hand, get their mother’s permission to go to the river and enjoy their day without worries.

Karl had not been himself since the nightmare. He sat by himself most of the day. Karl continued to believe that this strange beast had a message for him. Then he decides to go to the river by himself. As night is about to fall, he sees a bolt of lightning flash before him and feels the swaying of the ground beneath him. Will Karl find his way home? Does he succeed in his quest to confront the beast?

The story abruptly shifts back home to the children listening to their mom, Essie, relating one of her nightly stories. She talks of two men locked in a prison cell. The innocent prisoner sees the possibility of being set free someday even though he has no money to defend himself, but the other guilty prisoner is unhappy and mean. Essie’s lesson is that the mean prisoner continued to see only bad things, but the innocent prisoner continued to see promise and beauty outside his window. Before sending the children to bed, they are reminded to look for the good in every situation.

Boys and girls age seven and up will each find elements in the story to their liking. Adults will enjoy the clever interweaving of sound moral lessons intertwined with the charming setting and folklore of Jamaica and the familiar antics of children everywhere.

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