________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


Stories at the Door.

Jan Andrews. Illustrated by Francis Blake.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2007.
79 pp., hardcover, $22.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-811-8.

Subject Heading:
Tales-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Ruth Scales McMahon.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


What's that at the door?
It's a story! A story by gosh and by gum.
I can see from its nose and its whiskers.
I can see from its tail and its tum.

It stopped on the step for a moment.
It dithered a while on the mat.
But now it's come in. It's about to begin.
It's even hung up its own hat.

Jane Saves the Day
He straightened the stream so it would flow faster. He trimmed the hedges in the gardens. He mowed the wide, green lawns. He planted saplings for a new forest. He washed the Master's windows. He washed his whole house.

Jesper and the Jackrabbits
Once up on a time - that wasn't your time or my time - there was a lumber baron. There was also a lad named Jesper. The lumber baron lived in a fancy, great house in a town by a river. He'd made his money out of other men's work at the logging. He was big and fat and rich.


Celebrated Canadian children's author and storyteller, Jan Andrews, has taken another selection of international, traditional tales and given them a Canadian flavour in Stories at the Door. There are six tales, six great tales, that will be unfamiliar to most young audiences. Each story is preceded by a rhyme announcing the arrival of the story at the door. The language of the stories has been simplified and the plots adapted to suit younger audiences and should be easily read alone by novice readers (grades 2 and up). As an adult, I found reading these aloud a bit stodgy, but my listeners begged to hear them over and over.

internal art

     Storytellers will delight in being reminded of these great tales and the journey the book will send them on, finding new sources and reuniting with favorite collections.

     Being raised in the Ottawa valley, a home of the lumber trade and the hiding place of Champlain's astrolabe, I found it hard to suspend my belief that Jesper and the Jackrabbits happened in a time, "that wasn't your time or my time." But my daughters loved discovering the site of lumber baron J.R. Booth's home (down the block from my parents') and driving past the site of Champlain's astrolabe's recovery. This local connection made the story more 'real' for them.

     The illustrations are the crowning glory of this book. Francis Blake's colourful collaboration adds life, humour, depth and entertaining sidelights to these tales. His attention to detail such as Dracula's photo on the mantelpiece in "Jamilla Finds Fear" and the numerous tools held in the numerous arms of the genie in "Jane Saves the Day" is just one example of how he engages the reader.


Ruth Scales McMahon is a professional children's librarian, storyteller, co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children's Choice Book Award, and the mother of two young children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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