Dark Tales from the Woods
This collection of tales comes from the early 18th-century travelling gypsy storyteller, Abram Wood, stories which have passed down the Wood family for over two hundred years. Often, they feature the ubiquitous hero, Jack; a person most of us already know from his adventures with the beanstalk and slaying the giant. Jack is Everyman, or rather every lad. He’s not particularly bright or handsome, and certainly not rich, but he has a kind heart, is resourceful, brave and skilled in guile. All these qualities, and more, will be tested in our scallywag hero’s adventures. What Jack knows, but his money-loving, blinkered brother Tom does not, is that it’s important to look below the surface. An ugly old crone may have something important to say, rescuing someone in trouble may bring a blessing when one most needs it.
These stories, retold beautifully by Daniel Morden and meant to be read out loud, hide important lessons for life underneath their seemingly simple settings. No wonder they have lasted for two hundred years. Dark Tales from the Woods won the Tir na n-Og prize for children’s literature in Wales, and well-deserved, too. Brett Breckon’s terrific illustrations add to the aura of magic. Highly recommended for children of ten plus.