Kate Forsyth (text), Lorena Carrington (illus.), Vasilisa the Wise and other tales of brave young women, Novella Distribution, 14 Dec 2017, 104pp., $29.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9780648103066
How many fairy tales can you name? Do you know of Vasilisa The Wise who outwits an old witch and marries the Tsar? Can you remember the one about the girl who saves her stepsister from dark magic? How about the tale of the princess who finds true happiness as an ordinary girl? Or the single mother who won’t give up on her lost child?
We can overlook the power fairytales can have in helping us understand our contemporary world, through their use of symbols, icons, allegories and characters. This collection delights in retelling lesser-known tales featuring girls and women who are brave, selfless, independent and determined. Older readers will love traipsing through these creepy, moody yet inspiring tales. Younger readers would relish being frightened by adults reading them out loud.
Carrington has created striking illustrations through her use of found natural objects and silhouetted photography, that perfectly match the themes and tone of the stories. Art teachers could use this book as a source of inspiration for students to create similar atmospheric artworks.
Teachers of older students could easily use tales from this collection and compare them with more well-known versions of fairytales. What kind of role models are girls being presented with in Snow White or Little Red Riding Hood? What messages and morals can you draw from these stories? The possibilities are open and exciting. How lucky we are that Forsyth and Carrington have collaborated so beautifully.
Reviewed by Madeleine Crofts