Review of ‘Two Trickster Tales from Russia’
Written by Sophie Masson. Illustrated by David Allan. Audio recording by Xavier Masson-Leach, with music and sound effects by Xavier and Bevis Masson-Leach.
Publisher: Christmas Press
Age Range: Primary School
Themes: folktale, folklore, Russian, moral, traditional tale, heroes, villians.
Click on cover image or title to purchase.
Schools are always on the lookout for well-told folktales and ‘Two Trickster Tales’, published by Christmas Press, is just that. The paperback and the CD (sold separately) contain two traditional Russian folktales – ‘Masha and the Bear’ and ‘The Rooster with the Golden Crest’. The comprehensive teacher’s notes here give an excellent synopsis and history of each story and teachers will appreciate the background information on the author, Sophie Masson, and illustrator, David Allan.
Sophie Masson has written over 50 books for children and young adults and she has a number of books with Russian themes, which would be useful follow up texts to‘Two Trickster Tales’. Retellings of traditional tales can be very hit and miss, but it is clear Sophie Masson has treated this tale with incredible care – she stays true to the original but her sharp writing ensures it will appeal to children of today.
The illustrations are exquisite and well aligned with the text of the story with their old worldly, retro feel. Just look at them below – I particularly like the one of Masha with the bear eating porridge as my girls have porridge for breakfast each morning and we often talk about Goldilocks, and now Masha – which is an entirely different tale but still involves porridge! For me a book only works when text and illustrations are in perfect harmony as they are in‘Two Trickster Tales’, and I very much look forward to seeing David Allan’s future work on Christmas Press publications.
The Australian Curriculum: English has a strong focus on tales from around the world and ‘Two Trickster Tales’ is a worthy addition to school libraries and classrooms. The audio recording is of a high quality and will be a great resource in classrooms, in giving students exposure to different forms of story. You can listen to a short sample of the audio stories here.
Christmas Press specialises in beautiful picture books for children, featuring traditional tales–folk tales, fairy tales, legends and myths – retold by well-known authors and stunningly illustrated in classic styles that reflect the cultures the stories come from.
[Edited to add: ‘Two Trickster Tales’ was followed by ‘Two Selkie Stories from Scotland’ retold by Kate Forsyth and illustrated by Fiona McDonald and ‘Two Tales of Twins from Ancient Greece and Rome’, retold by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by David Allan.]