Grandmothers' Stories
Retold by Burleigh Mutén

Grandmothers' Stories:
Wise Woman Tales from Many Cultures
Children's book review by P.J. Rooks

Ages 9-12 (According to Amazon)
Grades 1-5 (According to School Library Journal)
I'm reading 'em to my genius three year old (P.J. Rooks)

Mmmmm... Whether you like to step out stylin' in four-inch stiletto heels or you bundle the old dogs in burlap bags, there's nothing quite like simmering down after a busy day by treating your tired feet to a sitzy, salty soak...

As long as you follow the proper protocol, that is. I just hope that you know how important it is to throw out the water when you're done. Is it cold yet? I'm starting to feel a little nervous here. Be sure to dump it outside when you're done.

Hey, don't call me obsessive-compulsive, I'm just looking out for your best interests. Well, it certainly isn't my intention to ruin your relaxing moment, I'm just saying...

Right, okay, I'm leaving. Just don't forget to dump the water or the feetwater spirits might come.

What? You've never heard of them? The legendary feetwater spirits of Ireland? Those depraved little imps that call out to the water left over in the tub, "Feetwater, feetwater, let us in?"

The water that oozes silently across the floor while you sleep; a living being that rises up on liquid haunches to unlock the door and let the spirits into your home? They are a noisy and raucous lot -- they'll paralyze you where you sleep and destroy the place if you let them.

What to do?

Go ask the wise old woman. Review continues.

from the back cover of Grandmothers' Stories

The wise old woman knows the answers. A mortal stand-in for the immortal earth goddess, the all-knowing matriarch has been handed across cultures and generations, filtered through time, honed, hewn and delivered, these hundreds or even thousands of years later, to the starlit bedsides of our dreamy-eyed tykes.

Delightfully collected in Burleigh Mutén's Grandmothers' Stories, she is the subject of many a timeless tale of kindness rewarded, evil thwarted, serenity and vindication.

With fairytale illustrations that often border on luminous and whisper of sweet dreams and faraway comforts, these stories will entertain and ignite the imaginations of readers of all ages.

  • a Japanese grandmother who, with a magic spoon that multiplies grains of rice, outsmarts a greedy little enclave of hobgoblins called onis
  • an even scarier Russian twist on Hansel and Gretel
  • a German Cinderella story
  • the tale of a beautiful witch who escapes from prison on the back of a crow she's drawn on the wall, and
  • a Swedish woman who returns home to find her husband in the fireplace and her cow dangling from the roof...

...these are just a few of grandmothers' stories Burleigh Mutén has plucked from the history of human legend and lore to share with us.

Burleigh Mutén has written several collections of stories, including The Lady of Ten Thousand Names: Goddess Stories from Many Cultures and Grandfather Mountain: Stories of Gods and Heroes from Many Cultures, but I think, especially for smaller children, that Grandmothers' Stories is my favorite, as some of the others have a thread of violence that may be better suited to older kids.

However, they are, all of them, fun stories sure to garner top accolades from the munchkin citizenry of The Land of Tell-It-Again.

More children's books celebrating other cultures.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

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