By Véronique Dupuis
There’s something magical about hearing or reading an old story that has been passed down for generations. Here’s a sample of some that have left an impression on this reader. Swing by the Sunnyside or Main library to pick them up!
What a wonderful winter tale to read with a small child sitting on your lap! Various forest animals are trying to take refuge in an abandoned mitten during a cold winter day. Will they all fit in? This Ukrainian story has inspired many picture-book writers over the years. Don’t miss Jan Brett’s or Jim Aylesworth’s versions – they both have such richly detailed illustrations. Ages 3-6.
Riding a Donkey Backwards
This collection of short tales (only one or two pages) feature Mulla Nasruddin, “the wisest fool of them all,” a beloved character that has been known all over the Middle East and Central Asia for centuries. They all end with a punch and are guaranteed to either make you laugh or leave you pensive… but most often both! Ages 4-8.
First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers paired several times with oral historian Robert Budd to publish picture books retelling Northwest Coasts legends, one of which is Orca Chief. When four exhausted fishermen carelessly throw their anchor on the roof of the house of the chief of all the orcas, the chief takes them underwater to teach them the different ways they can fish while respecting nature’s balance. Make sure to check out Cloudwalker and Peace Dancer as well.
Ages 6 and up.
Delightfully Different Fairy Tales
Imagine Cinderella at a 1930s flapper party, Rapunzel as a David Bowie fan, and Sleeping Beauty as a wannabe engineer who dreams of seeing what cities will look like in the distant future. Find all three tales in this wacky, joyous book! Ages 6-10.
This exciting graphic novel by Alexander Utkin will delight readers aged 10 and up (including adults!). Throughout this book, Gamayun, a human-faced bird from Slavic mythology, introduces one epic tale after another. The vivid colours and modern style of the illustrations make this a vibrant book that you will surely want to re-read! Ages 10 and up.
Arthur, the Always King
Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have been told and retold, and here we go once again with this recent publication. This one is definitely worth a good look: the text by masterful writer and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland is paired with the illustrations of Chris Riddell, who never fears adding a touch of grotesque to his penetrating portraits. This book is a rare treat! Ages 12 and up.
Véronique Dupuis is a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library’s Sunnyside branch.