An energetic, girl-power addition to the fairy- and folktales shelf.

BLANCAFLOR, THE HERO WITH SECRET POWERS

A FOLKTALE FROM LATIN AMERICA: A TOON GRAPHIC

When Blancaflor’s father, an ogre, sets a trap to win a prince’s kingdom and then eat him up, Blancaflor sets out to thwart the plan.

In a twist from the traditional trope in which a damsel in distress is saved by the dashing prince with whom she then lives happily ever after, here it is the brave and resourceful young woman with hidden powers who saves the clueless prince. As the ogre and the prince play “The Ogre’s Three,” a deadly game the ogre is bound to win, Blancaflor carries out the challenges, letting the prince believe it is he—and his luck—who has accomplished the feats. As in so many fairy tales, in spite of her smarts and his lack thereof, the pair fall in love at first sight, and they do go on to live happily ever after. García Sánchez captures the nonstop action with artwork that is dynamic and vibrant. Readers can’t help but follow as the story goes back and forth between pages full of panels to full-bleed illustrations. The brown-skinned characters have wonderfully expressive faces despite deceptively simple styling. The setting of the story—and the story itself—feels more European than Latin American, a phenomenon of cultural exchange addressed in a foreword by F. Isabel Campoy and in Spiegelman’s closing note. The book publishes simultaneously in Spanish, ably translated by María E. Santana and José M. Méndez.

An energetic, girl-power addition to the fairy- and folktales shelf. (Graphic folktale. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-943145-55-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Valuable both for its broad range and shivery appeal.

LIVING GHOSTS & MISCHIEVOUS MONSTERS

CHILLING AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES

A mix of 32 timeless chillers and personal encounters with the supernatural gathered from Native American storytellers and traditions.

Carefully acknowledging his oral, online, and print sources (and appending lists of additional ones), Jones (Ponca) intersperses his own anecdotes and retellings with accounts by others collected in his travels. The generally brief entries are gathered into types, from brushes with ghosts or spirits (the latter distinguished by having “more complex agendas” than the former) to witches and monsters. In them, the tone ranges from mild eeriness—hearing an elder relative on the porch just moments after she died and seeing small footprints appear in wet concrete near the burial ground of an abandoned Oklahoma boarding school—to terrifying glimpses of were-owls, were-otters, a malign walking doll, and a giant water serpent with a “sinister smile.” They all join the more familiar (in children’s books, anyway) likes of Bigfoot and La Llorona. Linked to a broad diversity of traditions spanning the North American continent, the stories, both old—there’s one ascribed to the ancient Mississippian culture—and those given recent, even modern settings, are related in matter-of-fact language that underscores a common sense of how close the natural and supernatural worlds are. In sometimes-intricate ink drawings, Alvitre (Tongva) amps the creepiness by alternating depictions of everyday items with grinning skulls, heaps of bones, and the odd floating head.

Valuable both for its broad range and shivery appeal. (introductory notes) (Traditional literature. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68160-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A few mild chills but bland and generic fare overall.

SPIRITED AWAY

FAIRY STORIES OF OLD NEWFOUNDLAND

Supernatural talk and tales from a Newfoundland poet and lifelong resident.

Being more “talk” than “tales,” the nine episodes are mostly reminiscences in which narrators of both sexes recall hearing about the encounters of others with eldritch folk in spooky settings, including a headless ghost, a changeling in their baby’s crib, flickering “corpse candles” in a graveyard, or in some cases just scary spots in the woods. Though Dawe supplies source notes with further anecdotes, it’s not clear whether he’s actually recording stories he heard or spinning fragmentary memories and standard folkloric motifs into fictive creations. In either case, despite atmospheric language and Tomova’s dark and eerie linocut illustrations, readers are likely to feel distanced by the second- (or third-) hand narratives. Nor, though the author often refers to real locales, is there much beyond a vaguely Celtic air to give the tales a flavorsome sense of specific place or culture. There is no sign of racial or ethnic diversity in either pictures or text.

A few mild chills but bland and generic fare overall. (glossary) (Folkloric short stories. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-927917-13-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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