Monday, September 10, 2018

Not One Damsel in Distress - Jane Yolen

Title: Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore
Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018 (Hardcover)
Length: 134 pages
Genre: Children's Fairy Tale
Started: August 29, 2018
Finished: September 5, 2018

From the back cover:

This book is for you because it's important to know that anyone can be a hero if they have to be. Even girls. Especially girls. Especially you.

These fifteen folktales have one thing in common: brainy, bold, brave women - and not one damsel in distress! There is Bradamante, the fierce medieval knight; Li Chi, the Chinese girl who slays a dreaded serpent and saves her town; Makhhta, a female warrior who leads her Sioux tribe into battle; and many more women who use their cunning, wisdom, and strength to succeed.

Drawing from diverse cultures around the world, renowned author Jane Yolen celebrates the female heroes of legend and lore in a collection that will empower every reader.

This new edition features two brand-new stories and enhanced illustrations.

I've read many of Jane Yolen's books since my teenage years, including more than a fair share during one year in university when I took a course in fairy tales. I wish I had discovered this book during my teen years (apparently the earliest edition came out at the tail end of my teens), I would've devoured it.

The tales are fairly easy to read and have that lovely quality to them that begs them to be read aloud. The author did a wonderful job in trying to present a diverse offering: there are not only tales from the European/Western tradition, but also China and Japan, Africa, Indonesia, and even Aboriginal America. The illustrations included are offered at about one per tale, and are a nice touch but aren't anything to write home about (except for the cover illustration).

If you have a daughter, granddaughter, niece, etc., this is a must-buy for bedtime reading. This could even be used in schools studying mythology as well to present a more balanced offering of stories since the myths tend to skew overwhelmingly male.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love it. The art style and colour palette are visually appealing, the image is dynamic, not to mention the book's diversity is nicely represented even on the cover.

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