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Grandmothers’ Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures by Burleigh Muten
Published by Barefoot Books, 1999

In many popular fairy stories, the old woman figure is depicted as either foolish and muddle-headed or cunning and full of evil intent. Grandmothers’ Stories paints an altogether different picture. Each of the tales in this collection focuses on the wise woman. Shrewd and ingenious she may be, but she is also kindly, resourceful, independent-minded and well respected by others.

Grandmothers’ Stories: Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures by Burleigh Muten

The stories in this anthology illustrate many of the finest qualities of the wise woman figure. La Bruha, the beautiful crone from Cordoba, is a generous and enchanting character who is always ready to help others, even when events go against her, and is spirited enough to stand up for herself too. And ‘The Old Woman who was Right’ portrays a heroine whose grit and efficiency finally win the respect of her grudging husband.

Full of humour and suspense, the stories in this collection also abound with memorable images, among them a quick-witted Japanese woman escaping from an underground cave in a rice pot which she paddles with a long red spoon; La Bruha seated on the back of a giant crow; the North Wind rushing through the house of Old Mother Holle, scattering feathers everywhere; and the old woman of Hawaii rocking on her large, wide hammock in the moon.

Retold by Burleigh Muten with great freshness and wit, all of these stories are beautifully complemented by Sian Bailey’s mesmerising illustrations.

Grandmothers’ Stories will delight children of all ages - maybe prompting them to look with new eyes at the ‘old’ person who reads to them at night.

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