There are hundreds of wonderful stories told around the world, and many, many of them can be found in books of folk tales. Today's pair hail from India and Russia, one a folk tale, and one a classic tale that a ballet has been based upon.
by Anushka Ravishankar
978 1 77049 280 6
A strange thing happened to a man on his way home - he coughed and choked, and spit up a feather, leaving him with a very sore throat. He came home and told his wife, but asked her not to spread it around. Well, the thing is, this man happened to live in a small town with not much to do, and people loved to tell tall tales, so she was not about to keep this to herself! She ran to her neighbour to tell her about how her husband had coughed up a bird! and so the story grew as it jumped from one townsperson to the next... At the last, the townspeople came to see the amazing jungle full of animals that was growing in his mouth, only to find something entirely different - but still amazing - when they got there.
This is an old Indian tale, which I have seen in other versions with different stories told, but the point of the story remains. It's a fun one, and a nice unpreachy object lesson in gossip, too. The art here is bold and bright, with enough South Asian flavour to give the story a nice feel for the area it hails from, while being nicely kid-oriented in it's colours and in the way it illustrates the story and highlights the absurdity of the ever-growing rumour. This one is a good story, great fun, and a nice intro to another culture's tales.
ISBN: 978 0 7636 5076 6
This is the story behind the famous ballet, and draws on earlier versions, as the author notes at the end. It is the tale of a king whose gold-skinned apples are being stolen by the firebird, and of his son, the underestimated youngest, who goes off in search of the firebird and hopes to win the offered reward for its capture. On the way, a chain of events starts, and with the help of a magical grey wolf, he ends up returning home with not only the firebird and the reward, but a future wife and assorted treasures.
The story builds on itself, and uses traditional storytelling patterning that suggests to the reader where the story will go, though does not fall into being easily predictable. This edition is also richly illustrated and larger in size, making for quite a beautiful package. This would be a perfect gift for a ballet lover, or someone who would appreciate a gorgeously told and presented story from another tradition.