The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales
By Dawn Casey, with illustrations by Anne Wilson
Barefoot Books, 2009, $19.99
Both children and adults will delight in these seven stories from seven different cultures, pleasingly retold by Dawn Casey, with lively, colorful illustrations by Anne Wilson. Even very young children who hear these tales read aloud will find entry into magical worlds, where the footsteps of the Sun Mother cause the cold Earth to burst into bloom and all manner of creatures to awaken (“Sun Mother,” Australian Aboriginal).
A tale from Nigeria’s Edo people (“Why the Sky is Far Away”) illustrates how greed can cause imbalance and suffering, and how the bountiful Earth cares for her people. In the Native American tale “She Who Is Alone,” an orphan child’s sacrifice of her only treasure brings needed rain to her tribe and earns her a new name and the respect of her people.
A Balinese folk tale (“Grumpy Gecko”) tells how all of nature is connected so that even the flashing fireflies that are keeping the little gecko awake at night are part of a chain that nurtures his existence, while “The Magic Garden,” from Kazakhstan, shows how compassion and sharing bring rich blessings to humans and the natural world.
“Amrita’s Tree” is based on true stories from India, in which villagers risked and even sacrificed their lives to protect their forests; in Casey’s retelling, a young girl’s courage saved the trees that sustained the life of her village. Finally, the Welsh tale, “Stink Water,” shows how creative thinking among neighbors can give birth to solutions that benefit all, opening the door for parents and children of all ages to find their own creative ideas.
Hands-on activities are suggested for each story, together with information on its culture of origin. The stories and illustrations will awaken ears, eyes, and hearts to the wonder and magic, both in the world around us and in our own hearts.