September 2013, Boxer Books, 176 pages, Hardback, Review copy
Themes: morals, royalty, religion, rich and poor, happiness and sorrow, generosity, helping others, greed,selfishness, envy, over-protection, magic, fate/destiny, over-confidence, beauty, joy, song,
Summary from Boxer Books
This is the first extraordinary volume of tales collected, retold and illustrated by Jane Ray, one of the world’s leading artists of stunning picture books. This volume, The Emperor’s Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales, includes many favourites such as The Happy Prince, The Owl and The Pussy Cat, and lesser known, but equally enjoyable stories such as Jorinda and Joringel.
I loved the unique style of illustrations that added an extra mystical element to the stories in this book, and I'm excited that Jane used the scratchboard technique in this and the other books which are forthcoming from 2014. The stories themselves deserve a mention:
The Happy Prince:
I remember watching a cartoon of this when I was little, and it always made me sad so I was apprehensive about reading it. However, this time I understood the generosity of the swallow and felt it's sacrifice was noble - I was less anxious about the swallow's family missing it.
Mulumgu Paints The Birds:
I'd never heard this African myth of how birds got their colouring and it was a sweet and funny tale.
The Owl and the Pussycat:
My feelings on this poem hasn't changed since I was little - it's a bit too
bizarre and reminds me of Lewis Caroll's weird work (including Alice in Wonderland).
I belive in giving honest reviews and in truth when I first came across this I was really
annoyed it was in here as I firmly believe that Noah and the flood happened - it didn't seem right that it was in among fictional stories. However, after a minute or two of fuming I reread Jane's introduction to the story (each story started with her thoughts on it) and calming down I changed my mind. This is a vital part of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is an honour that it is presented for the reader to learn about, which may spark more interest in religious history. I love the depiction of the dove looking so pure.
Hope Is The Thing With Feathers:
I have little experience of Emily Dickenson's work and found this poem utterly charming!
Jorinda and Joringal:
A new story to me but one where good triumphs over evil eventually.
Heron and the Hummingbird:
Think tortoise and the hare and you have the main theme of this story.
The Emperor's Nightingale:
This is the second retelling that I've read this month of this tale and I love
Jane's version except for the death illusration - too scary! Thankfully it was small rather than a full page
The Jackdaw of Rheims:
I felt ashamed of people's thoughts towards the jackdaw as well as being sorry for the bird's misfortune.
A wonderful tale - the tower scene illustration made me think of Rapunzel and Sleeping
A rhyme which I knew most of the lines from when I was little.
Minus the points already touched upon I thoroughly enjoyed this book full of tales accompanied with exquisite illustration, as both a reader and a bird owner.
You can find out more about this new series on Jane's website.
For more fairytales including a retelling of the Emperor's Nightingale check out Royal Fairy Tales for Bedtime retold by Mairi Mackinnon & illustrated by Lorena Alvarez (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)