Saturday 7 May 2016

The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland

The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland, retold by David Walser, illustrated by Jan Pienkowski (Walker Books)
PB RRP $17.99
ISBN 9781406360950

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Fairytales are always a delight to read, especially those from other countries. They reveal a lot about a country’s customs and traditions. Each of these tales ends with a moral lesson.

Reading these reminded me of my childhood, how I’d sink into a story and become part of it, or one of the characters.

A forward by David Walser, and an overview of Jan Pienkowski’s childhood in Poland, is accompanied by a listing of the Polish words used in the text, their pronunciation and English meaning. This prepares the atmosphere for the reader.

Lots of dragons make an appearance, so do devils, princely challenges, and the lust for wealth and its outcome. The Miller’s Daughters stood out for me with its strong metaphor of learning being a way to freedom.  Only the youngest of the three daughters loved books and learning. This is what saves her from being turned into a caged yellow bird.

This is the fourth collection that these two artists have collaborated on together. The pictures in these eight fairytales, follow the tradition of paper cut-outs in Polish Folk art, and are cut with scissors and pinking shears. Striking colours are used on the eye-catching cover, with bold colours emphasising the cut-out pictures throughout the book.

Young readers will enjoy reading the few gruesome bits, and they’ll be delighted with the cleverness of Leon, the blacksmith’s apprentice, as he works out the secret to climbing the Glass Mountain. Ideal for 9+ readers, this is an interesting selection which kids will love.

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