cover image The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers: And Other Gruesome Tales

The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers: And Other Gruesome Tales

Jen Campbell, illus. by Adam de Souza. Thames & Hudson, $19.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-500-65258-9

As gleefully retold by Campbell, traditional tales from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and Central America reflect two layers of revision—a reversion to grisly details usually squeamishly edited out, and updated plots and characters that reflect a more inclusive worldview, with queer and disabled protagonists of many ethnicities. Some stories chill, such as “The Souls Trapped Under the Ocean (Ireland),” in which a man who uses sign language is troubled to discover that the merman he loves has “tiny pieces of other people’s souls, all stitched together” in a composite soul. Others are more forthrightly gory: “The Boy Who Tricked a Troll (Norway)” features a disembowelment, with “guts tumbling out” and landing “with a wet splash,” and in “The Princess Who Ruled the Sea (Inuit),” a king uses an axe to cut off his daughter’s fingers “one by one.” De Souza’s conventionally hip, cartoonish illustrations blunt the well-told tales’ sharp edges, but not their messages of resourcefulness and diversity. Ages 9–12. (Nov.)