cover image Realms of Gold: Myths & Legends from Around the World

Realms of Gold: Myths & Legends from Around the World

Ann Pilling. Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, $16.95 (91pp) ISBN 978-1-85697-913-9

Pilling draws from the folklore of numerous cultures in this eclectic if ultimately uneven collection. Featuring classic themes of love, greed, jealousy and the battle between good and evil, the 14 entries are of varying length and complexity, making it difficult to pinpoint the appropriate audience. Divided into three categories (``Earth, Air, Fire, and Water,'' ``Love and Death'' and ``Fools and Heroes''), the tales range from the succinctly told ``Iyadola's Babies,'' an endearing West African myth that offers an explanation why babies are born with various skin colors; to the labyrinthine ``The Death of Balder,'' a relatively lengthy Norse legend that will be slow-going for most youngsters. Among the volume's best offerings are a lively retelling of the Greek myth ``King Midas'' and ``The Wishing Fish,'' an entertaining Russian story about a magical fish who teaches a lesson to an avaricious woman. The volume is copiously--and deftly--illustrated by Denton, whose spot art and larger illustrations display an intriguing amalgam of styles reflective of the tales' countries of origin. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)