cover image Happy Endings Are All Alike

Happy Endings Are All Alike

Howard Schwartz, Sandra Scoppettone. HarperCollins Publishers, $17 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-025239-7

One of the pleasures of reading folk and fairy tales attributed to specific cultures lies in finding the traits they share with stories from other peoples or places; another is coming upon the element that makes the story indigenous to that particular culture. The 15 brief tales collected here contain both delights: witness the story of Katanya, an obvious variant of ``Thumbelina,'' who is a gift from the prophet Elijah to a lonely old peasant woman; and Og, a giant who is rewarded for helping Noah with a berth on top of the ark and is given food, drink and a raincoat by the grateful animals themselves. The editors do a splendid job of incorporating introductions of unfamiliar characters or ideas smoothly into the text--these tellings roll trippingly off the tongue. Shulevitz's ( Dawn ; The Treasure ) illustrations, with their characteristic jewel-like tones, are a perfect match; it seems unfortunate that there are only 10. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)