Between worlds Folktales of Britain & Ireland

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Book - 2019

"The definitive collection of British and Irish folktales from master storyteller and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland. Rich and strange, these eerie and magical folktales from across Britain and Ireland have been passed down from generation to generation, and are gathered together in a definitive new collection from the master storyteller and winner of the Carnegie Medal, Kevin Crossley-Holland. Dark and funny, lyrical and earthy, these fifty stories are part of an important and enduring historical tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Described by Neil Gaiman as the "master", Crossley-Holland's unforgettable retellings will capture the imagination of readers young and old alike." --

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Folk tales
Short stories
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2019.
Main Author
Kevin Crossley-Holland (author)
Other Authors
Frances Castle, 1966- (illustrator)
First U.S. edition
Item Description
"First published in 1987 as British Folk Tales by Orchard Books"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
341 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (page 318-337).
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Retold by Carnegie Medal Crossley-Holland (Norse Myths), this collection of 48 British and Irish folktales presents both familiar and obscure tales in rich, vivid prose. In his afterword, Crossley-Holland writes that his intent was to "reclothe" stories he'd heard since childhood "in clean, bright, direct language," with a specific audience in mind: his grandchildren. Many of the selections are short enough for a read-aloud at bedtime or in a classroom. Most contain just the right amount of creepy detail or eerie magic. In "King of the Cats," nine black felines parade down a path carrying a coffin draped in black velvet. In a "Cinderella" variant, "Three Heads in a Well," an exiled princess is rewarded for her kindness after she cares for a trio of decapitated heads she encounters in the wood. Usefully divided into categories, such as "Magic and Wonder" and "Tricksters and Fools," all the usual otherworldly suspects appear, including: fairies, boggarts, ghosts, changelings, and giants. Silhouette-style, black-and-white illustrations from Castle (illustrator of Space Saver) reinforce the spooky, fantastical mood, and scholars will appreciate the endnotes identifying each story's sources. Ages 10--up. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Horn Book Review

This valuable collection of almost fifty stories from the British Isles is a reissue of Crossley-Holland's 1987 British Folk Tales, with several tales from his 1997 collection The Old Stories folded in. Divided into sections (e.g., Magic and Wonder; Adventures and Legends; Ghosts), the volume contains standards such as "Mossycoat," "Tam Lin," and "Tom Tit Tot" as well as many less familiar stories, altogether covering a wide range of types of tales and different themes. This master storyteller's voice is strong and distinct, and his prose employs inimitable turns of phrase ("such a scowl of a night"; "the north wind pursed his blue lips and whistled") but never at the expense of the original folktales. An appended section meticulously identifies the sources for each retelling. Martha V. Parravano November/December 2019 p.128(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A selection of folktales from the British Isles.Gathering material previously published in two separate collections, Crossley-Holland (Norse Myths, 2017, etc.) includes nearly 50 stories divided by theme: "Magic and Wonder," "Adventures and Legends," "Fairies and Little People," "Power, Passion, and Love," "Wits, Tricks, and Laughter," and "Ghosts." Readers will encounter familiar favorites, such as "King of the Cats," "Tam Lin," and "The Black Bull of Norway," as well as lesser-known tales. The stories are told in language that is both economical and vividly evocative, with a cadence that lends itself equally well to reading aloud or as a basis for learning a story to tell orally. Rather than appealing directly to teen readers, it is likely that this book will be indispensable to educators planning folklore units or teaching storytelling skills. Castle's (Journeys of Discovery, 2018, etc.) black-and-white digital illustrations call to mind woodblock prints, and their rustic beauty greatly enhances the book. The thorough source notes are a model for works of this type, indicating what is typically the earliest printed version of the story, its geographical origin, particular adaptations Crossley-Holland made, and, quite often, his reason for selecting that individual tale. Encompassing moods from whimsical to awe-inspiring to spooky to fantastical, this is a valuable resource for fans of northern European folklore.A lovely, magical volume that is a must-have for storytelling collections. (pronunciation guide, afterword, sources and notes, biographies) (Folklore. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The Dark Horseman   As Jemmy strode down the road toward Slane, he began to say praises. "Praise be and I'm Irish," he said, and he swiped at a clump of nettles with his shillelagh. "Praise be and it's the top of the summer." Jemmy's trousers flapped at his step, and by the wayside poppies and cornflowers nodded and smoldered and beckoned. "My cattle are sleek," said Jemmy. "They're buttery creatures! They'll sell well at the fair. And then I'll drink a whiskey, and take a turn on the whirly horses, and talk to a girl with stars in her eyes." Jemmy Nowlan managed an estate outside Slane, and he had sent ahead his cattle early that morning. Jemmy was tall; he was very strong; he was handsome and he knew it. "Praise be and I'm alive," he said. "Praise be and praise be and I'm Jemmy Nowlan."   While Jemmy was crossing the lonely heath just outside Slane, the clouds began to gather over his head. The summer's day that had begun with scents and sunlight and soft, dawdling wind turned beetle-browed and bellowing. Then Jemmy heard the clop-clop of a horse coming up behind him. He turned 'round and saw a young dash of a man riding on a black horse: black velvet jacket, white ruffles at his wrists, starched wing collar, shiny black boots. Jemmy looked up and saw the man was swarthy, and his skin was almost dark. "Jemmy Nowlan," said the dark horseman. "I've been looking for you all along the road." Jemmy Nowlan looked startled. He was sure he had never seen the man before. "Come on up!" said the man. "There's a storm in the sky. I'll take you to the fair at Slane." Jemmy didn't want to ride with the man. Not at all. He began to feel quite nervous and gripped his shillelagh. "Ach!" he said, looking up at the black sky and wrinkling his nose. "The weather'll be all right again soon." And as he spoke, Jemmy could hear distant voices inside his head. He had to close his eyes to make out what they were saying: "Still such a young man and just whisked away . . . they took him into the heart of the hill . . . a prisoner, a prisoner . . . and the only times they ever saw him was along with the walking dead. . . ." "I'm going there myself." The voice of the horseman brought Jemmy back from his reverie. "And I'd be glad of your company, Jemmy Nowlan." "Ach!" said Jemmy. "It's not for the likes of me to ride with the likes of you." "I insist!" said the dark horseman.   Then he stooped and just touched one of Jemmy's shoulders with his ivory whip. And the next thing Jemmy knew, he was mounted behind the dark horseman, and the horse was galloping like a storm of wind. The horseman said nothing. He rode until the horse was sweating and foaming. He rode across wild heathland where Jemmy had never been before, and on into an oak forest, and up to a castle set in a green glade. As they cantered over the drawbridge, Jemmy saw that dozens of servants were standing on the steps around the massive door, waiting to welcome them. They all wore the same livery -- 
green and gold -- and all of them were even smaller than the two dwarfs at Slane fair. "Well!" they cried. "If it's not Jemmy Nowlan! Welcome, Jemmy Nowlan!" Scrambling around him and standing on each other's shoulders like a troupe of acrobats, they helped Jemmy dismount; they dusted him down; they put a drink in his fist; they asked what they could do for him. "Very civil!" said Jemmy, and he took off his jaunting hat and ran a hand through his thick black hair. "Very civil!" Then Jemmy saw a man waiting on the steps. He stood at least as high as Jemmy's hip, and he was wearing a sumptuous outfit of purple and gold. So, Jemmy Nowlan, Jemmy thought, the lord himself has come out to greet you. "Take Jemmy to his room," said the lord. "Let him dress." Several servants escorted Jemmy to his room high in the castle, where his new clothes were waiting for him: a fine suit of brown velvet, and a cap and feather. Jemmy looked at them in admiration and delight. Far from leaving him to look after himself, the green-and-gold servants would not allow Jemmy to lift a finger. They took off his jacket and his shirt and his trousers, untied his shoes, and washed him after his journey. "Blessings!" exclaimed Jemmy. "There's nothing wrong with this." When the little servants had dressed Jemmy in his resplendent new outfit, they hurried him down a flight of circular stone steps, trotted beside him along dim passageways, and led him into the castle hall. This hall was hung with Chinese lanterns and garlands of flowers. Down at the far end, a group of musicians was playing fiddles,  and the little people were dancing. "There's a sight!" said Jemmy. "I've never seen anything so lovely." Most lovely of all were the ladies, with their flashing smiles, and their throats and fingers all covered in jewels. Jemmy couldn't take his eyes off them. "Will you dance with me, Jemmy Nowlan?" asked one lady. "No, Jemmy!" said another. "You must dance with me." And like a hundred winter sparrows and a hunk of bread, all the ladies in the hall pecked and squabbled over which of them should dance with Jemmy Nowlan in his brown velvet suit. "Blessings!" cried Jemmy. "I'll dance with you all." And that is what he did. He danced with every single lady in the room, until he was so tired that the only thing he wanted to do was to lie down there and then, and go to sleep.                                                       Excerpted from Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.