cover image Tales of Wisdom and Wonder

Tales of Wisdom and Wonder

Hugh Lupton. Barefoot Books, $19.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-901223-09-5

A professional storyteller, Lupton imbues each folktale in this unusual collection with the rhythm and wit of an informal orator, and delivers a nugget of truth at the close. Reflecting an impressive amount of research, he culls legends from Ireland, Russia, France, Africa and the Caribbean islands and embellishes them as a jazz musician embellishes melody (the analogy is Lupton's, and it is apt). He weaves in riffs tailored for reading aloud and prompting interaction with the listener: ""Now, the farmer's wife could not keep a secret! Can you keep a secret? The farmer's wife, she could not keep a secret."" Also marking an auspicious debut, artist Sharkey emphasizes the mysterious yet home-spun quality of the tales. She uses a different color scheme for each, but unifies the volume with recurring oblong box-shaped borders that run across the bottom of the pages (each tale has its own visual motif). The geometric shapes and wide eyes of Sharkey's characters may remind some readers of a cross between Lane Smith and Yumi Heo, but the composition of her work reflects her own unique style. For instance, she creates a witty counterpoint when picturing a bulbous dog in ""The Peddler of Swaffham"" burying his bone as his master unearths a buried treasure. Readers can only hope that this team of newcomers has more in store. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)