Review Blog

Oct 07 2013

The house of the cats : and other tales from Europe by Maggie Pearson

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A & C Black, 2013. ISBN 9781408180075.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Folk tales. Humour. For those students who like to read a variety of folk tales then this is a most diverse collection. Collected from across different European countries, many are a little like some heard before, but most are new to me, and several are variations upon themes. But all are fascinating, give life lessons and are funny to boot.
Several stand out. One from Germany, Mannikin Spannalong, I have not heard before. When a young woman, intent on making her own way in the world, calls at a house for shelter she finds a long bearded wizened old man who demands that she feed him, put him to bed and comb his beard. When he becomes a young man released from a spell, readers will expect love to bloom. But not so, she wants to succeed and so he leaves, and she uses the hair from his beard to spin and so sell and make money.
Belgium's The traveller from Paradise and The Mandrake child from the Czeck Republic are two of the more interesting cautionary tales, while The Pope's mule from France was fascinating, set in Avignon, from where the Papacy ruled in late Medieval times. The story will make readers laugh out loud.
All 28 stories are short, to the point and will excite the imaginations of the readers. This is a neat addition to an area of the library that often contains few new books.
Fran Knight

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