Fierce, fearless and free: Girls in myths and legends from around the world by Lari Don

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Illus. by Eilidh Muldoon. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781472967138. 158pp.
(Ages: 8-10) Recommended. This enjoyable, diverse anthology of thirteen myths and folktales, stars young women from different times and across different continents. There is a 4000 year old Sumerian myth about the Goddess Innana who outwitted a mountain god intent on destroying the world. In another folk tale, with a Chinese origin, Sister Lace is able to make lace creatures and bring them to life in order to escape marriage to an evil emperor. We are introduced to the notion of feetwater in an Irish folk tale about getting rid of witches from your cottage and in a Nigerian legend Nana Miriam successfully uses her magic to defeat a monster hippo.
These stories are very concise and simply told with touches of humour. The author, Lari Don, makes them very approachable for young, newly independent readers but they will also work well read aloud. The collection is a good resource for teachers to use with their students to study myths and folktales and the common links that folk tales around the world have. For example the Italian story of Petrosinella could be compared to the more well-known Rapunzel. In addition Lari Don provides interesting notes on the derivation of each of the stories and lets us know that such tales of strong and smart girls are genuinely old and important. The cover is modern and inviting and each story has a one page black and white illustration.
Jo Marshall