Girls, goddesses and giants by Lari Don

cover image

Ill. by Francesca Greenwood. A & C Black, 2013. ISBN 9781472903068. Hardcover, 128 pages.
(Age: 8-10) Highly recommended. Subjects: Heroines, Goddesses, Myths, Legends, Courage, Women in Mythology.
Lari Don is a popular Scottish children's novelist. Her first collection of myths and legends is a celebration of feisty, smart heroines from around the world. She is also a storyteller and her strong narrative voice makes each tale a great read-aloud. 'I've spent years searching for authentic old stories with girls who fight their own battles,' she comments in her author notes.
The front cover is bold introduction to the text with Francesca Greenwood's eye-catching red silhouette of a sword-wielding girl fighting a pale orange dragon surrounded by stylised flowers. Strong black paper cut images lead into each tale and black flowery line drawings are included as decorations as well. These strong statements really contrast with the current pastel fairy and princess series and collections.
The collection of twelve short stories is drawn from different cultures including Greek, Indian, Norse and Cameroonian. These pit a strong central girl character against all kinds of evil from demons, monsters, and wolves to sea serpents.  They use their courage, kindness, wiliness, intelligence and special abilities to save themselves and their tribes.
In Innana and the Box of Monsters, the goddess outwits her uncle Enki, stealing all his treasures. On her journey home she successfully fights fifty two monsters including the blue wild-haired enkum. The retelling of an early version of Red Riding Hood has quite a surprise ending.
I highly recommend this book for readers from 8-10 years of age. This is a great resource for English, exploring narrative stories.
Rhyllis Bignell