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Eva Martin. Illustrated by Laszlo Cal.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books, 1984.
123pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-88899-030-8. Distributed by Douglas & McIntyre. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Fairy tales-Canada.

Preschool-grade 4 / Ages 3-9

Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Martin, a storyteller and children's librarian for the Scarborough Public Library, has selected and retold a dozen fairy tales taken from the oral heritage of the French, British and Irish who first colonized Canada. As fairy tales should, these stories contain the appropriate ingredients: simple lads, princesses, princes, tasks to be completed to prove worthiness, greed, jealousy, magical helpers, and wicked witches and giants. Almost half of the stories concern two particular characters. Three of them relate the quests of Ti-Jean, while another pair reveal how Jean Pierre got his golden hair and then won a princess.

Though European in origin, the tales have absorbed some Canadian characteristics and, in particular, reflect early Canada's forested wilderness areas. In a couple of instances, Martin has updated small details in the stories so that, for example, in "Beauty and the Beast," the prince is mistreated by three giants who use him as a ball, first in a game of football and then in baseball - hardly recreational activities during the times of the tales' origins.

Readers familiar with Laszlo Gal's earlier works will immediately recognize his attractive full-colour illustrations, which introduce each tale. A black and white border, surrounding each full page illustration, picks up further story details.

A section at the book's conclusion acknowledges the various sources Martin used for the tales.

Though the collection is a most welcome addition to Canada's store of folk literature for children, purchasers who are reading or telling the tales to an audience should be judicious in their initial selection of stories. Listeners brought up on a diet of homogenized, Disney-like versions of fairy tales may not be ready for the rough, traditional structure found in some of the tales and may be looking for more characterization and smoother plotting.

Dave Jenkinson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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