cover image Mother and Daughter Tales

Mother and Daughter Tales

Josephine Evetts-Secker. Abbeville Kids, $19.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-7892-0281-9

Part of the Abbeville Anthology series, this pedestrian retelling of 10 folktales from around the world, all about mothers and daughters, is given a critical boost by Cann's luxuriant illustrations. Evetts-Secker's foreword and endnotes founder with the weight of jargon and specious pronouncements: ""The godmother is not an actual goddess, but carries similar energy, compensating for the spiritual poverty of the girl's birth mother,"" or ""[the stories] reflect what it is to be a natural and spiritual woman."" Including familiar stories from European traditions as well as less well-known Chinese, Iroquois and Turkish tales, the retellings often rely on cliches. In the space of a few sentences, for example, the author describes how nymphs ""fled in fright,"" as Demeter, whose heart is ""froze[n] with fear,"" is also ""frantic with fear."" Cann's delicate watercolors include an inviting montage of motifs from various cultures. Surrounding each tale are intricate borders that feature, variously, red Chinese dragons, pale Japanese apple blossoms or vivid Eastern European embroidery patterns. While her figures occasionally look stiff or awkward, Cann's strong and inventive designs seem to burst from each page. Ages 6-12. (Oct.)