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Y Bysgodes - Cymdeithas Affrica Gogledd Cymru a Casia Wiliam

♥Llyfr y Mis i Blant: Awst 2023♥



(suggested) reading age: 7+

(suggested) interesr age: 5-11

Illustrations: Jac Jones

 





We all know what happens in the three little pigs, and you’ll of course be familiar with Jack and the Beanstalk. These are well-known stories that originated in England, but have since been incorporated into our own culture. Of course, Wales has plenty of it’s own stories and legends - Cantre'r Gwaelod, Stori Gelert, Dreigiau Dinas Emrys, Stori Branwen to name but a few! For me, Wales has always been associated with the land of song, legends and magic.


But I can think of one folk tale you won’t have heard before – Y Bysgodes (The Fish Princess). This is quite different to your average run-of-the-mill story – you’ll hear about the greedy fisherman, a beautiful princess, an old witch and a sneaky snake.


The story is the product of an innovative project, between Wales and the North Wales African Society, as part of the BLAS project, ran by Pontio Bangor culture centre.  The project aims to strengthen links between Wales and Africa, as well as helping to bring communities together.




I love seeing books that have an international dimension like this, because it brings together the the storytelling traditions of Wales and Africa to create something special. The resulting story is something of a fusion of Welsh and African traditions, to create a legend with different yet familiar elements.

Who’s the author of this book? Well, according to Casia Wiliam, she's not the author, she was just the one to bring all the strands together. The ideas all came from the young people who were involved in the project.


The book was designed by a God amongst children’s illustrators in Wales, Jac Jones, and his paintings bring the magic of the story to life, in his unique, recognizable way! Be sure to check out the colourful tapestry within the covers displaying the artwork of everyone involved.



The book takes it’s inspiration from old Ghanian, Nigerian and Welsh stories to create something completely new.


There's quite a bit of text in the story, so it would probably be too difficult for early/young readers, but it’s perfect for enjoying with a parent at bedtime. All the better if the book works as a springboard to inspire others to go on to create new, unique stories. It's about time we had some new ones to tell, adding to our vast collection, that reflect today's modern, multicultural Wales.



Sometimes, the story jumps from one place to another in a bit of a whirlwind, and is a mishmash of different elements and ideas. Because of this, at times, the book feels like one that's been written by committee – and that's pretty much true. It was co-written by a lot of people contributing all their amazing, magical, whimsical ideas, so it’s no surprise the book feels busy. My advice is just go with it! Hopefully we’ll see more international projects like this, that bring communities from around the world together, but more importantly – to simply tell a good story.


 


Here's the press statement about the project:

 

More information about Pontio Arts Centre:


BLAS project Facebook page:


BOOK ALSO AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH:

 



 

Publisher: Y Lolfa

Released: 2023

Price: £5.99

 

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