Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Mightier Than The Sword

Rowan and I go to the library weekly, if not more. The Columbus Public Library is an award winner for many reasons. We take home 15-20 picture and chapter books a week and have only repeated well-loved favorites upon request. This week we chanced upon "Mightier Than The Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys" by Jane Yolen. I am so glad that we did.

Anyone who has't read Jane Yolen really should. I love her Sister Light, Sister Dark series as well as her dark retelling of Briar Rose. She is also prolific in the kids' books department, although not all her offerings are this high caliber. She has two collections for non-kyriarchical, no stereotype child-rearing that I highly recommend- this book (which shows you do not have to use violence and force to solve problems and have a good life) and "Not One Damsel in Distress" (a book that shows enterprising young ladies how to get out of scrapes themselves). I plan on purchasing BOTH for my son. I believe that to counter all the propaganda out there about boys and girls, men and women in film, TV and culture in general- he will need both.

This afternoon, I read "Knee-High Man" to Rowan before his nap. It is an African-American folktale about a short person who wishes to become bigger. In the story, he asks for advice several times before he is questioned about WHY. In the end, he is happy "getting bigger in the mind". I also love "Language of the Birds" which has the byline "Not all enchantments are wicked". Indeed!

The collection Yolen assembled also includes Finnish, Afghani, English, Israeli, Russian, Burman, and Hungarian folktales (among others). It is a well-rounded collection across many cultures and times.

In the forward essay (entitled "An Open Letter to My Sons and Grandson" Yolen explains, "This book is for you. It is for you because this book did not exist when I was growing up." Yolen has given the world a gift in these two companion volumes.

I highly recommend this book to a parent of boys and girls.

Formal Rating:

Title: Mightier Than The Sword
Author: Jane Yolen and Raul Colon (Illustrator)
Publisher: Harcourt Inc.
Price: $19.00 USD (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-15-2163914

Topics Covered: Gender, Sex, Identity, Challenging Violence and Force

Target Audience: children ages 2-10

Witch Mom Rating: Three Hats

This book is has a selection of great storiesthat counter the conditioning that boys need to become heroes through fighting, battles and use of violence and force. It is a powerful important message more children need to hear.

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