Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Tattercoats and Other Folk Tales" by Winifred Finlay

I saw this old book in the children's section at the library a few years back, standing on a special display shelf, but I did not borrow it at the time. I can't remember why--maybe I was already in the middle of reading something else? But it obviously stuck in my mind, because I later made a note to get it next time we were there. However, when I looked it up the next few times, the card catalog always showed it was checked out. The perils of having had a spot on the special display shelf, I suppose. Then I forgot to look for it for a long time . . . until last week. First I looked for it under FIN on the fiction shelves, but it wasn't there. Then I checked the card catalog and saw that the library doesn't categorize this book as fiction! It was in the non-fiction section! What's that about? I'm not sure whether to chalk that up to wishful thinking, stupidity, not paying enough attention, or a librarian with a sense of humor.

I may have mentioned [many times] before that I enjoy a good children's book on occasion, with an emphasis on fairy tales and magic. This one was no exception. In fact I loved it so much that I began to consider buying my own copy. I want to read it to my kids at bedtime, even though the majority of them are too old for it and the youngest one is probably too young to appreciate it. I don't care--I'll read it to anyone willing to sit relatively still in my general vicinity. I'm not a fan of the cover art (the library book is dust-jacketless, so it's just a plain green binding, and I much prefer that) but the stories inside are lovely. And all the better because they are neither retellings of the most common fairy tales, nor are they the jarring modern-style updated versions; these are actually new stories that I'd never heard before. They have a lot of familiar elements, but they're just different enough to feel unique. And they're told in the gentle old-fashioned language with repetition of details that one would expect from these sorts of stories.

Now I just have to decide whether to go ahead and buy a copy now, or hope someone gives it to me as a Christmas gift . . .

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