Review Blog

May 22 2014

Two Selkie stories from Scotland retold by Kate Forsyth

cover image

Ill. by Fiona McDonald. Christmas Press, 2014. ISBN 9780992283827.
(Age: 8+) Recommended. Fairy tales. Folk tales. Selkies. Scotland. After the success of Two trickster tales, it is not surprising that more folk stories are being produced by this relatively new publishing house. Two tales of Selkies, one, The Selkie bride is not unknown, while the other, The kingdom of the seals is new to me. Both are contained within one volume, a slim, attractive book, easy to hold and with a soft rendering of the two tales on the front cover.
The naive illustrations are often framed by borders in which are intertwined all sorts of objects, reminiscent of Celtic forms. Some of the borders require closer inspection to see things talked of in the text, while other pages have scatterings of objects alluded to.
The Selkie bride is an old story of love and freedom, where a laird, on seeing a beautiful Selkie, stops her from returning to the water with her folk, trapping her in his castle. But one day walking near the ocean with her daughter, she dives into the sea and does not return, preferring her freedom to the imprisoned love shown by the laird.
The second story,The kingdom of the seals, similarly shows a laird going against the customs of the area, killing seals, with dire results.
It is good to see folk tales once again being published and offered to young children. This was my favourite part of the library in the middle years at school, when very little Australian fiction was published for that age group.
Fran Knight

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