Friday, February 12, 2016

The Glass Mountain and Over the Hills and Far Away (Candlewick Press)

The Glass Mountain is a collection of eight stories from the land of Poland that are retold by David Walser. The stories in this collection are as follows:
  • The Fern Flower
  • The Krakow Dragon
  • The Frog Bride
  • The Miller's Daughters
  • The Trumpeter of Krakow
  • The Glass Mountain
  • Pan Twadrdowski
  • The Warsaw Mermaid
The book is illustrated by Jan Pienkowski and is the fourth book on which he and David Walser collaborated. At the beginning of the book is a brief account of Jan's childhood in Poland. It is an interesting account, and in it he also shares with us about the Polish folk art of paper cutouts, which is what he used to illustrate this book. After this section, there is a one page pronunciation guide of some of the tougher to say Polish words. After this introductory material, we are treated to the stories, which I would describe as dark at best. The first story "The Fern Flower" talks about a little boy, who wants to pick a flower to become the richest man in the village. His greed consumes him, and he ultimately loses everyone he loves. "The Miller's Daughters" is a tale of three sisters. Two of them are only worried about shallow things, but the third wants to read. Their shallowness would have cost them their life, if not for their studious sister. In "The Warsaw Mermaid" two fishermen capture a mermaid, but her hypnotic song entices a third man to set her free. After setting her free, he follows after her into the river and neither of them are seen again. Overall, this is a dark fairy tale book, which I guess I should have expected seeing that the idea of a happy fairy tale is still a somewhat modern invention. The illustrations are beautiful, and enhance the stories exponentially. If you're looking for happy fairy tales, check out Disney. If you're looking for authentic fairy tales, this is the book for you!

Over the Hills and Far Away is a collection or treasury of 150 nursery rhymes from around the world. Including the geographic diversity of these familiar and unfamiliar nursery rhymes, what sets this book apart is the illustrations. Instead of having one illustrator, there are 77 world famous illustrators including Alan Lee, Eric Carle, Marcia Williams. This is a cute book with a lot of rhymes I recognized and a smattering of ones I didn't recognize. My son loves this book, and the sing-songy way the words flow. The illustrations also provide color and character for the visual learner. I confess that I didn't love all of the illustrations, but it was fascinating to flip through the book and see all the different illustration styles of the various artists. Overall, it was a clever book and one worth investing in if you have little ones in the house!

These books were provided to me for free by Candlewick Press in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!