by Andrea W. Von Konigslow
32 pages,
ISBN: 0002238950

Talking Walls: The Stories Continue

by Margy B. Knight
36 pages,
ISBN: 0884481646

How We Saw the World: Nine Native Stories of the Way Things Began

by C.J. Taylor
32 pages,
ISBN: 0887763022

The Last Piece of Sky

by Tim WynneJones
32 pages,
ISBN: 0888991819

A First Class Funeral

by Sonia Birch-Jones
48 pages,
ISBN: 0889820589

Melanie & the Magic Bubble

by Mary H. Docksteader
24 pages,
ISBN: 0919591663

Post Your Opinion
Myths And Magics
by Diane Schoemperlen

SAVING THE BEST for last is not a that thedesign of each illustration`s bo notion that comes naturally to der wasinspired by an art or craft most children - certainly not to indigenous to thatarea. Crow and Fox is my eight-year-old son, Alexander, who everything achildren`s book should be: immediately plucked the best of the entertaining,educational, funny, inter bunch from this group of children`s active, andbeautiful. A few days after books. In Crow and Fox and Other readingthis book, Alexander was Animal Legends (Greey de Pencier, 32 invitedto a birthday party. His immedi pages, $14.95 cloth), the prize-winning atechoice of a present for his friend was children`s author and illustratorJan Crow and Fox, high praise from a boy Thornhilltakes young readers on a fas-who would generally rather spend my cinatingjourney around the world. money ongrotesque, plastic action-figures thenine stories leads neatly into than books. the next by carrying over one of theani- Margy Bums Knight`s Talking Walls mals.For example, the Australian story (Quarry, 36 pages, $19.95 cloth) is simi "Craneand Crow" is followed by the larlystructured. Charmingly illustrated Middle Eastern story "Crow andFox," in colourful pastels by Anne Sibley which is in turn followed by"Fox and O`Brien, this booktakes an original and Bear" from Northern Europe. The beau-unusualapproach to introducing chiltiful full-page, full-colourillustrations, dren to various cultures around the one or two per story, alsopick up ani-world. It contains 14 different stories of mals from the previousstory. The first walls, telling of their origins, impor tale, "Elephantand Hare," from India, tance, and influence on the cultures of of course featuresthese two animals in each country. Among the walls the illustration. In thesecond story, included are the Great Wall of China, "Hare andTortoise" from West Africa, the Wailing Watt of Jerusalem, the walls thetitle animals loom large in the pic-of the Museum of Civilization in Hull, ture,but there in the distant back-Quebec, the South African prison walls ground isthe elephant from the first. behind which Nelson Mandela was Finding these tinysecondary animals in held for 26 years, and the Vietnam each new story providedan additional Veterans Memorial in Washington, bit of fun for Alexander. He then dis-D.C.The last story is that of the Berlin covered that, in the final picture, allthe Watt, which brings the book full circle animals from all the stories couldbe back to the dedication: found clustered at the foot of the Food Tree, amagical tree from which, according to this South American legend, grew allkinds of food for all the animals and people of the world. At the back of thebook is a key with a numbered world map showing where each legend originated.It also explains All over the world, every hour of the day, there are people ofall ages, races, and creeds working bar to create a world without walls thathurt people. We dedicate this book to them. Like Crow and Fox, this book ends themselveswith a key featuring a world map and further historical information. TalkingWalls isa very earnest book with an admirable political agenda that, unfortunatel,tends to overpower the stories How We Saw the World (Tundra, 32 pages, $17.95cloth), by the Mohawk artist C. J. Taylor, is also a compilation of storiesfrom various sources. In this case, Taylor is retelling nine legends fromNative North American tribes. As she explains in the introduction, Nativereligion is everywhere around them, and she chose these particular mythsbecause they "illuminated our relationship to nature in an exciting,informative, and even humorous, way." Included in the book are stories ofwhy butterflies cannot sing, how horses came into the world, why the dog is ourbest friend, and the hilarious Mohawk tale of why rabbits and owls look the waythey do. As in Talking Walls, the political agenda here is laid out in thebeginning: these myths carry warnings of "what happens to communities ifpeople don`t care for each other and what will happen to the world if all of usdo not keep nature in balance." Here, however, the stories are subtlyallowed to speak for themselves and the political messages are notheavy-handed. The paintings that illustrate the book have been exhibited atvarious galleries, and they are lavish and beautifully rendered. In a world of television, Nintendo, andJurassic Park, it is heartening to find that children`s love of myth and magicstill endures. Klee Wyck`s Magic Quest (Oolichan, 48 pages, $9.95 paper), by Sonia Birch-Jones, skilfully combines the two in a classic quest story. HereKlee Wyck is a young Orca whale who has been designated official mascot of theXV Commonwealth Games, to be held in Victoria in 1994. This book, besidestelling a good old-fashioned fairy-tale (with lovely full-colour illustrationsby Lissa Calvert), is also intended to foster "the qualities of goodsportsmanship, national pride, and friendship that are the spirit of the CommonwealthGames." Indeed it does. After Klee Wyck has accidentally lost herCommonwealth Games gold medal in the ocean, her little brother, Kia, is captured by Hagema, the evil seawitch. In order to recover the medal and save her brother`s life, Klee Wyck,with the help of the Good Witch and her friends, Great Eagle and Otty the SeaOtter, must embark upon a quest for three magical objects. Along the way shemeets up with Raven the Sly, Sabrina the Stellar Seat, Diablo the DemonOctopus, and Skara the Giant Troll (who looks very scary but turns out to be agood guy). This is a delightful book with tots of reading in its six chapters,and it all works out in the end. As the Good Witch says, "With magic, allthings are possible." The only thing lacking is a fuller explanation ofthe origin of the name "Klee Wyck." This is mentioned only in passingin chapter five in a reference that does not fit into the story. In Frogs (HarperColtins, 32 pages,$12.95 cloth), Andrea Wayne-von Konigslow retells another classic fairytale.Here the idea of kissing a frog who will then become a prince is turned upsidedown. Lucy and her sister Lenore love frogs. They collect them and teach themtricks. Sometimes their mother even lets them have a frog sleep over. One nightLucy kisses a frog and, sure enough, he turns into a prince. Mom callseveryone, including the mayor, the newspapers, the TV station, and some movieproducers. Soon everyone is catching frogs and kissing them. The town isoverrun with princes who quickly get on everybody`s nerves, always doing theirprincely stuff. Lucy comes up with a clever way to get rid of all theseannoying princes. Michael Martchenko`s colourful illustrations add to theburnout of this delightfully funny book. Magic also abounds in Melanie and theMagic Bubble (Polestar, 24 pages, $16.95 cloth), the first book by MaryHoughton Docksteader, an artist known for her pastel drawings of children.Melanie is feeling "mumfy," that is to say, bored, cranky, andlonely. Her neighbour, old Mrs. Huggins, gives her a bottle of Very SpecialBubbles. The biggest bubble forms around Melanie, and she then floats up and upand over the whole neighbourhood. As Melanie looks down through the bubble,even the most ordinary things become beautiful. This experience changesMelanie, who ever after "spent a lot of time looking at things, readingbooks, and learning about the world around her" and never felt mumfyagain. Although the black-and-white drawings are beautiful, the story is a bittoo corny for the 6-to 10 age group for which it is intended. Another story in which magic saves theday and banishes bad moods is Tim WynneJones`s The Last Piece of Sky (Groundwood/Douglas& McIntyre, 32 pages, $13.95 cloth). Owen is having a bad day. He messes uphis sister`s jigsaw puzzle and when she yells at him, he goes out to sulk byhis favourite tree. There he meets a duck who leads him to a magic snake`shouse at the bottom of Heartbeat Pond. All through this adventure, Owen`sfavourite saying is, "Why should l?" But he does, and finally hediscovers the missing puzzle piece, "something high and wide - a littlepiece of sky." Marie-Louise Gay`s illustrations are, as always, lively andamusing - Owen`s spiky red hair, round glasses, and chubby nose are endearing andmore than make up for his annoying snottiness. After returning home, hecomptetes the jigsaw puzzle, whichis, of course, a picture of himself, the duck, and Heartbeat Pond, and peacewith his sister is happily restored. Am I just being a grouchy, occasionallybeleaguered parent when I question the wisdom of stories like this one and Melanieand the Magic Bubble, both of which promote the notion of magic as the solution tobad moods, unpleasant behaviour, and familial discord? Maybe I`m just in a bad mood myself. Dothese healing powers of magic work on adults too? Please send some my way,preferably before Alexander gets home from school.

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