Review Blog

Jun 13 2014

Winter's tales: Stories of winter from around the world by Lari Don

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408196908.
(Ages: 10+) Contains some graphic and violent content with some supernatural themes.
A unique collection of 15 tales about winter from around the world, told long ago, based on legends, myths and folk tales.
The Greek mythology story about 'The seeds of winter' tells of a time when the gods were young, when there was no winter. And how the goddess Demeter had the busy responsibility of encouraging all the plants to grow. Demeter was married to the chief god Zeus and they had a daughter named Persephone who grew into a beautiful young woman, tall, slim and golden like the wheat in her mother's field.
One afternoon whilst picnicking with family and friends, everybody had eaten so much that they decided to have a nap. However, Persephone noticed something shining in the middle of the field. Upon investigation she found a glorious plant covered with black flowers with silver tips on each black petal. Being a plant she had never seen in her mother's garden before, she thought she would pick just one blossom to take back and show her mother.
As she tried to pick the flower her hand stuck to the plant and she was dragged underground into the underworld with Hades and Hades offers Persephone the black plant as a wedding bouquet.
The story continues to unfold the events leading up to the development of the seasons and in particular winter.
The story about 'The last sun' is a Chinese myth about ten beautiful suns, each glowing in different colours - red, blue, purple, silver, pink, orange, lilac, green, yellow and gold. The suns danced in the air, making the sky above the new land of China gloriously bright. However, the heat from the tens suns made the earth below too hot. It was too hot for rain to fall, too hot for plants to grow and too hot for people to work so the great warrior Houyi decided to save the plants and people by shooting down all the suns one by one.
As he shot the suns down one by one, they would explode with thousands of spectacular sparks like fireworks. As Houyi reached for his final arrow, the last sun dived out of the sky towards the earth and hid in a cave. Houyi goes in search of the last sun to shoot it down. However, this last sun is so frightened it stays in hiding and the earth becomes very cold. The people and animals want the winter to end. The story continues to tell the events that led up to the development of all the seasons we enjoy today.
The story about 'The hero with hairy trousers' is a Norse Legend about a Viking hero called Ragnar Lodbrok, literally meaning hairy trousers. This legend tells about a Viking princess who was given a pet dragon as a child. As this dragon grew, so did its appetite to the point where villagers working in the field and fishing began disappearing, filling the appetite of the hungry dragon. The dragon was banished and built a lair in the highest point of the nearby mountains and would fly down into the village to select his meals.
Eventually, with the people hungry and afraid, the king made a proclamation that whoever would rid them of the dragon would win half the kingdom and the right to ask for the princess' hand in marriage.
The legend tells about those who bravely attempted to slay the dragon and how eventually Ragnar Lodbrok succeeds. This story has a lot of blood and guts to it with graphic descriptions about the slaying of the dragon.
Christina Sapio

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