George and the Dragon and a World of Other Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean
|George and the Dragon and a World of Other Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Tales you've known forever, tales you meet for the very first time: a whole collection of exciting, funny, inspiring and tear-jerking stories from around the world.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 208||Date: August 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Some people may wonder if we really need yet another collection of stories: after all, many of the tales in this book are already well-known. But that would be to miss the point. What is distinctive about this book is the fact that it is written by the multi-award-winning Geraldine McCaughrean, one of our most skilful, respected and prolific authors. Each of the stories here is like a gem made of words: beautifully told, using description which ranges from the lyrical to the comic, and both parents and children will derive a huge amount of pleasure from them.
So, are the tales familiar? Well, maybe. Some certainly are, but the author is not satisfied with merely reproducing the best-known version of each one, however beautifully: she checks her sources and seeks out all the different versions before making her choice. In this book, for example, George doesn't get the girl – but to find out why, you'll have to read the book. Others will undoubtedly be completely fresh and new.
The book is 208 pages long, and contains thirty-two stories – plenty to fill the bed-time reading slot for a month or so. And at only five pages long, more or less, each one has just enough in it to intrigue and entertain the young reader while giving them a sense of achievement at having read a whole tale by themselves. At first glance, the language may appear challenging: where the dragon passes, the stench wilted the cherry blossom and cankered apples on the bough, and in another tale over-enthusiastic fish are described as rubbing their sharp scales against the boat in ecstasies of adoration. But in this type of story, rhythm and atmosphere are more important than in contemporary accounts of adventures and derring-do. It won't matter to the young reader if a couple of words pass them by: what they will enjoy and remember is the colour and mood of the piece. They are, in fact, ideal for reading aloud, and will be a real treasure house of delights for teachers of restless classes on rainy Friday afternoons!
Some of these delightful stories are not as well-known as they deserve to be. One French legend recounts how the Emperor Charlemagne's wife used an enchantment to keep him in love with her, and the hilarious outcome when the Prime Minister takes charge of her magic ring after her death. There's popular, and then there's being so attractive to your boss that you wish you'd never set eyes on him! A charming Melanesian myth blames the fact that the earth is mostly water on two silly, squabbling brothers, and a most moving story tells of the love between Isis and Osiris, which is so intense it lasts beyond death.
This book is a pleasure to read, and deserves to find its way into many Christmas stockings or birthday parcels. Just make sure you leave enough time to enjoy it yourself before you wrap it up.
Many thanks to Orion for sending this splendid book to Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy George and the Dragon and a World of Other Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy George and the Dragon and a World of Other Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean at Amazon.com.
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