*See language toggle for Welsh review*
♥ Tir na n-Og Award Shortlist 2023♥
(suggested) interest age: 8+
(suggested) reading age: 11+
Illustrations: Elin Manon https://www.elin-manon.com/
Gwales description: Looking at Celtic legends, everyone wonders at the strength and bravery of the female characters. This collection of fifteen myths from seven countries demonstrates this. Welsh adaptations by Angharad Tomos, Haf Llewelyn, Mari George, Aneirin Karadog, Myrddin ap Dafydd, Anni Llŷn and Branwen Williams.
A review by Francesca Sciarrillo
My initial response to this beautiful book was love at first sight, from cover to cover! And that’s before I even opened it to read the wonderful stories!
Immediately, I thought about how I would have loved a book like this when I was a kid. But anyway, I'm glad I found such a marvellous book as an adult, and I'm very happy to know that young children and people across the country can go and discover and enjoy the stories that come alive in this volume.
Fifteen stories from different Celtic nations are available in this collection – from Nia Ben Aur of Ireland to Queen Lupa of Galicia. Adorning the pages of skilfully crafted words by much-loved writers are Elin Manon’s epic illustrations.
One of the best things about this collection – in my opinion anyway – is the fact that you can read one at a time and return back to the same story, or another story. Each one feels fresh and different from the rest – as they are written by different authors – and that adds to the enjoyment of reading.
A cast of strong, bold and brave characters will keep you company such as Rhiannon from Wales and Kowrmelyan the giant from Cornwall. My favourite stories – though I love them all – are Queen Lupa of Galicia and Merch y Tonnau from Scotland. I wasn't familiar with most of the stories in this collection, and I'm thrilled to learn more about the myths and legends associated with Celtic nations.
I would really recommend this collection to any young reader who loves stories full of adventure, magic and memorable characters. This is a collection to treasure, and one in which very special women are the stars. How wonderful it is to see how the illustrator and authors have imagined and created these important characters. And without a doubt, the collection manages to "keep the stories alive" for readers of all ages.
Morgan Dafydd's take on it, Sôn am Lyfra
Books to treasure
Out of all the books you ever read, some just really stand out don’t they? They are memorable in more ways than one, and make an impression that lasts long after they’ve been read. One such book for me was 'Heno Heno' edited by Glenys Howells – a book I was gifted when I was five years old. Twenty-seven years later, I still go back to it from time to time, and I've used it many times in class and kids still enjoy the short stories. I can still recite one or two of the stand out stories to this day – not word for word, but near enough! Now obviously, such a book was far too difficult for me as a five-year-old reader, but, Mam read them to me first, until I learned to do it for myself.
Dros y Môr a’r Mynyddoedd is a similar book, in that it’s a treasure trove of short stories, and something that can be enjoyed and passed down. Timeless in a way. I certainly would have loved such a book when I was a young reader – books were never so colourful when I was growing up. The artwork by Elin Manon is special and beautifully adorns most of the pages. I’d buy this book just to look at it to be honest! Her artwork really captures the wilderness of the seas and mountains and brings the various authors words to life.
New yet familiar tales
It's great that we get to learn more about tales with an international dimension from other countries. Most were completely new to me, yet had a sense of familiarity about them. For example, 'Ker Is' is very similar to out very own Cantre'r Gwaelod.
There are too many stories to mention individually, but Rhos y Pawl and Purt le Moirrey’s Mermaid were among my favourites. There's so much variety here - that's what's great about the volume. Each story is different, yet, they have one thing in common – the strong willed and brave women who lead each story. Mind you, don’t think that this is just a book for girls. There’s something here for everyone.
As for the language, I may as well be honest, it's rather challenging. Some stories seem to ‘flow’ better than others and are easier to follow. From my experience as a primary teacher, only the most confident readers will be able to successfully tackle the text independently. But don’t forget – children of all ages love being read to. There's often a tendency not to prioritise story time, and think it’s something for young children. With a skilled storyteller reading aloud, anyone from 8+ will probably enjoy these. The short story format makes perfects for dipping in an out as desired.
To sum up, this is a very beautiful volume, and although it may sound expensive at £18, you can tell a lot of work has gone into producing it. It’s one that deserves pride of place on the bookshelf to be sure.
Nia Ben Aur (Iwerddon)
Rhiannon a'r gosb o fod yn geffyl (Cymru)
Ker Is (Llydaw)
Morag Glyfar (Yr Alban)
Cewri Karrek Loos yn Koos (Cernyw)
Môr-forwyn Purt-le-Moirrey (Ynys Manaw)
Llygad am Lygad (Iwerddon)
Rhos y Pawl (Cymru)
Merch y Tonnau (Yr Alban)
Antur Keresen o Senar (Cernyw)
Stori Gráinne (Iwerddon)
Azenor ddoeth, Azenor ddel (Llydaw)
Castell Penârd (Cymru)
Cailleach – ceidwad y ceirw (Yr Alban)
Y Frenhines Lupa (Galisia)