cover image Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to Share

Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to Share

Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple. Viking Books, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88907-5

With more than 200 books to her name, popular storyteller Yolen (editor of Favorite Folktales Around the World) can be forgiven for one that doesn't quite measure up. The subtitle notwithstanding, this collection compiled with her grown daughter, with whom she has co-authored two children's books, is more apt to resonate with women than kids, for whom the authors' commentaries on parental expectations, sex and abuse, which are sprinkled with references to psychology and feminist texts, will be too didactic. Impatient teens who want to read a story only once may also balk at the structure. Each section highlights several variations of either a particular tale--including ones about Persephone, Rapunzel and Snow White--or a theme--such as caring daughters, mothers-in-law or bad seeds. On the other hand, mothers of all ages will welcome the opportunity to get reacquainted with mother-daughter folk stories like the French ""Diamonds and Toads"" (also known as ""The Fairy"") about just rewards, as well as ones from Bengal, Nigeria and Armenia that are less familiar in the West. Some stories are unnerving, like ""Daughter, My Little Bread,"" an Indian tale about a newlywed who kills her mother and then is killed by her husband, while the Lebanese tale of self-sacrifice, ""The Mother,"" is heart-warming in the best sense. There's no denying the pleasure of a well-told tale, or in this case forty of them, although mothers may need to do some extra work to spark conversation about them. Bibliography. Agent, Marilyn Marlow, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Apr.)