The books you’ll find below are all about African, Indian, Chinese, and even British legends. Some are complete fiction, some are based on religion, while others are based in truth or have historical meaning. What they all have in common, though, is that they are fascinating stories that readers of all ages will enjoy.
The Animal Tales series
Animal Tales 1
The tales of Jackal and Wolf are to South Africans what apple pie is to Americans. No one should grow up without them. Yet the sly Jackal and the whimsical Wolf is older than apple pie. These stories come from the Khoi-Khoi, a group of Bushmen who narrated them into existence shortly after the Stone Age. Animal Tales Volume 1 is the first book in a series of animal stories compiled by G. R. von Wielligh, who heard them as a child and who spent his adult life documenting them for future generations. In this edition, freshly translated into modern English, the stories get a new look thanks to the beautiful, full-color illustrations of Dale Blankenaar. Animal Tales Volume 1 is a compilation of 15 stories. We read about the big war between the walking and the flying animals; we are told who gets crowned as the king of the animals and we meet sly Jackal and poor, gullible Wolf. In Animal Tales Volume 2 among the 15 additional stories, we meet Tiger, Crocodile and Rabbit, while poor Wolf still suffers under the hand of Jackal and is often outwitted by Jackal. We also discover why Tortoise is such a gloomy fellow and how he came to learn that honesty is better than lying. We also read that even a clever animal like Baboon can be fooled.
Buy it here $12.00
Brahma Dreaming is master storyteller John Jackson’s latest collaboration with the acclaimed artist, Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. John’s intriguing versions of the tales of the Hindus’ great gods are graced by Daniela’s brilliantly reimagined illustrations of the deities, each a masterpiece of detail and drama, reminiscent of Dulac and Rackham, and the glorious ‘Golden Age.’ These are the tales of the Trimurti – the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – and Brahma Dreaming is divided into three sections representing their continuous forces of creation, preservation and destruction. The work begins with Lord Brahma dreaming the universe into being and from there unfolds an enthralling collection of interconnected tales that span the entire spectrum of human experience, dark illusions and earthly temptations. Here are brave princes, divine divas and demon kings, family feuds and epic battles, burning loves and lies, tragic deaths and glorious rebirths. There are tales about dancing elephants, peacock warriors and monkey armies, all retold by Jackson with great character, warmth and wit. Jackson’s collaborator, artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, has been inspired to create what she describes as the best work of her career in Brahma Dreaming with over fifty exquisite fonts and illustrations hand-drawn in black ink. These are the Hindu gods and goddesses as they have never been seen before! Brahma Dreaming has been crafted using the same methods and attention to detail used to create the earliest illustrated gift books from the turn of the twentieth century and the result is itself a work of art. With a distinctive black dust jacket, Brahma Dreaming is finished in black laminate with orange varnish details. Underneath the black cloth cover is a fully illustrated front and back with foil stamping and debossing, also in black and orange. It features elaborate endpapers and is completed with a tangerine ribbon marker.
Buy it here $38.95
Tales for Great Grandchildren
Drawing on the folklore and mythology of India and Nepal and inspired by author John Jackson’s travels in those countries, Tales for Great Grandchildren is an enchanting collection of 13 illustrated short stories aimed at children aged 7-12 years old. A father, grandfather and great-grandfather himself, author John Jackson has created an enchanting world of flying turtles, truculent tigers and talking lotus flowers that will enthral readers. John’s stories have been brought to life by critically acclaimed artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, who has created 27 original illustrations for the book, including 13 full color works.
Buy it here $30.00
Favourite Maori Legends
Māori myths and legends have an important role in transmitting and regenerating traditional knowledge. Yet as Ross Calman points out in his introduction to this new edition, they are also simply great yarns – reflective of a time when telling and listening to stories was a key leisure activity in Māori society. Favourite Māori Legends is an invitation to enjoy over 30 of the most memorable legends, grouped into themes of the spirit world, patupaiarehe (ghosts), taniwha, supernatural creatures, heroes and deeds of daring. Concise yet complete, these gripping stories are enlivened by the timeless illustrations of Roger Hart.
Buy it here $25.00
From Shakespeare’s Queen of the Fairies to the Flower Fairies and the Christmas Fairy, the magical creatures have enchanted centuries of people. This book explores what makes fairies, elves and imps so special. These winged creatures have given their names to many words and phrases as one of the chapters reveals and we’ve been entranced by fairies since fairy tales introduced us to Fairy Godmothers. The main part of the book is an A-Z featuring thousands of fairies and their male counterparts. Each short biography will have a symbol to show where they found their fame, whether in books, films, cartoons or, like Fairy Liquid, brands and advertising.
Did you know? Dandelion seeds are known as fairies, and Fairy Lights were invented for Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe.
Buy it here $34.00
The Best of African Folklore
Africa has a wonderfully rich store of folk tales that have been passed down from one generation to the next. There are stories about how the world came into being, stories that tell of the relationships between human beings and between man and his environment, and of the lessons to be learned from everyday experience.
The tales are like the fairy tales told all over the world, but they have a strong African flavor that is as real as the smell of rain on hot earth. Despite numerous setbacks, things usually turn out all right in the end. Wicked and greedy people (and animals) come off worst and the good receive their just rewards. The gods are stern but fair, and every story has a moral for those who are wise enough to see it.
Buy it here $12.00
The Myth of Ancient Egypt
Egypt is extremely popular in the West, with almost everyone having some preconceptions about the country and its history, but questions about the building of the pyramids, the curse of Tutankhamun and Cleopatra’s baths of ass’s milk are only the tip of the iceberg. The myth of Egypt is often one of mysticism and the occult, and the ancient texts are reputed to hold all manner of secrets, magical, technological and mystical, while in the Old Testament it is seen as a land of great magicians.
In this book, Charlotte Booth sets out to investigate eight of the most common myths about Egypt, their origins and how they have developed, in an attempt to separate fact from fiction. These range from the River Nile itself, through the pyramids and mummification, to three of the most famous names to have come out of ancient Egypt: Hatshepsut, Akhenaton and Cleopatra and the reputation of Alexandria as a city of ancient learning. The book concludes with a look at the important role that the myth of ancient Egypt has played in Western culture through the centuries, from art and architecture to the hundreds of films, cartoons and books which have been inspired by Egypt.
Buy it here $20.00
Symbols of China
From ancient architecture to everyday life; from myths and legends to historic places of natural beauty; from priceless artifacts to annual festivals and ceremonies; from performing arts to famous people, China has a myriad of iconic symbols that make up a historic and significant civilization whose longevity rivals any in the West.
Chinese symbols have a much more pervasive and complicated role than one might think at first sight: their study reveals not just their individual meanings, but also offers insight into divergent Chinese patterns of thought and cosmic views. Symbols of China provides an introduction to this immensely complex and fascinating subject. The book seeks to open a door to a world where for many, Chinese symbolic language is a second tier of communication, frequently richer in nuances of meaning than everyday speech and writing.
Buy it here $25.00
Some of the best myths are based in truth. Robin Hood – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor. From the medieval era to the present day, we have sung about him, listened to tales, watched him and his Merry Men in plays, on TV and even on the silver screen. We really are fascinated with this heroic archer. But what do we really know about the man and the origins of the legend?
Experienced author and historian Jim Bradbury goes in search of the truth, looking at the historical sources, the real-life candidates, his appearances in popular culture over the centuries, and his continuing popularity.
Buy it here $19.95