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Merlin: the strange, almost eerie magician who stands just to one side of the rest of humanity. Yet Merlin is not alone of his kind. He has kin in every corner of the world. For magicians are found among all peoples and in all cultures. In this collection, Josepha Sherman draws upon her dual training as a comparative folklorist and fantasy novelist to present international folk stories of magical valor and peril.
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Grade 3-8-A collection of 30 folktales that span the globe, from the British Isles to Southeast Asia, from Iceland to Hawaii. All of the stories are about magicians who use their powers for good and not for evil; none of the tales are about Merlin. Unfortunately, the writing is dry and uneven. Although readers are drawn into each of the stories in the beginning, the selections often fall flat. Sherman sets the scene well, introducing the characters and dressing the stage. However, once the action begins, the tales end abruptly, leaving readers unsatisfied. Extensive notes about each selection are appended. There is also a seven-page bibliography. Only libraries with large folktale collections will want to consider this book. For children who want to read about Merlin, suggest Jane Yolen's "Young Merlin" trilogy (Harcourt) or T. A. Barron's "Lost Years of Merlin" series (Philomel).-
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Sherman presents 30 international folktales that feature heroic magicians. Among her sorcerers are Gwydion of Wales, King Solomon of ancient Israel, Clever Aja of the Ashante in Ghana, and Glooscap of the Wabanaki of New England and Canada. She includes both traditional magicians, whose power is often derived from books of spells, and shamans, who are often priests, healers, and wizards, while pointing out that many cultures mistrust intellectuals and learned scholars. Some young readers will enjoy these stories, but the format is adult (no illustrations), and some of the selections (especially "Elephant Girl," who is cannibalized by her husband and brother-in-law) are rather grisly. Storytellers, however, will appreciate these tales as well as the extensive source notes and appended bibliography. Kay Weisman
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