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Stories at the Door

by Jan Andrews
illustrated by Francis Blake

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list price: $22.99
published: 2007
publisher: Tundra
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Stories at the Door

Stories at the Door, a collection of folktales from around the world, spotlights sides of folktales often forgotten. Instead of love-stricken princesses and princes, or jealous, wicked stepmothers, Stories at the Door presents six lesser-known folktales that feature characters such as decapitated ghosts and personified farts. Selected and rewritten by Jan Andrews, these spooky, hilarious tales are sure to appeal to kids who love to be thrilled and love to laugh at rude jokes.

Jan Andrews has given a slight modern twist to the tales. For example, in the “Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was,” a girl – instead of the traditional boy character – sets forth to try and find something that will frighten her. But the tales are only slightly transformed; on the whole, Andrews follows the traditional, rumbling, rambling plots of the classic folklore.

Numerous spot illustrations by Francis Blake, a longtime illustrator of children’s books, brighten the book. His cartoony style done in ink and watercolor especially highlights and augments the humor of the tales. Best of all, short poems by Andrews, each complimented by a full-page illustration by Blake, introduce each story. These poems set the light tone which is carried throughout the collection. This is a definite kid-pleaser.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2007. Vol.30 No.4.

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Jan Andrews draws on folk stories from around the world to build her newest collection of tales, rife with humor and tingling with action. Cleverly threaded together by verses describing the arrival of unbidden stories that enter boldly through the door and stay just long enough to have their say, these tales have been rendered anew by a master storyteller. In “Jesper and the Jackrabbits,” simple wits add up to wonderful wisdom — and rich reward. “Jacinth Wins Words” will spark hilarity, as two sisters compete with surprising and malodorous weapons. The cumulative “Cat and Mouse Tale” is nonsensical fun while “Jacinth Finds Fear” points up what is really important and worth dwelling on. “Jane Saves the Day” is one-upmanship at its best and demonstrates just how powerful underdogs can be. A wonderful addition to anyone’s library, Stories at the Door points up our human foibles in the nicest of ways and reminds us all not to take ourselves too seriously. Highly amusing drawings peppered throughout heighten the experience all the more.

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Contributor notes

Jan Andrews lives down the end of a road on a lake and has a passion for the Canadian wilderness. As a storyteller, she has a particular love for the traditional folk and fairy tales. She has read from the world’s great epics and, during summer weekends, has organized complete retellings of both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Her writing comes out of a conviction that young people can find, within themselves, all they need to manage in their lives. She also knows the power of humor as a means of finding the way through the darkness and delights in a rollicking good tale. She is the author of ten books for children, several of which have been shortlisted for major awards.

Francis Blake has been an illustrator for as long as he can remember. His artwork has appeared in magazines, books, and advertising materials across North America, Europe, and Asia. He is the illustrator of From Head to Toe and The A-Z of Everyday Things, both published by Tundra Books.

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About the Authors

Jan Andrews

The author of numerous books, including The Auction, The Very Last First Time, and When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew, which won the Silver Birch Express Award, Jan Andrews received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture as a children's writer and pioneer of Canada's storytelling movement. She died in 2017.
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