Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine, The

The Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine by Barbara J. Suwyn. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1997. ISBN 1-56308-425-2 Hardcover, 222 pp. $29.50

Schools, public libraries, and storytellers will all be interested in this, the latest in Libraries Unlimited's World Folklore series. In keeping with the format of the series, the book offers not only a collection of folklore, but also supplementary material on the history of the country, and other background information including maps and colour photographs. In light of the relatively recent emergence of Ukraine as a democratic republic, the historical information was particularly interesting. That information, coupled with an introduction to Ukrainian folktales by the editor and folklorist Natalie O. Kononenko allows the reader to enter the stories with much greater understanding. It also makes the book worth its weight in gold to students preparing reports, or teachers seeking information for their students. The 33 stories themselves are a mix of familiar and less well-known tales. Some of them will be known to tellers as Russian tales, a fact which is explained in Kononenko's introduction. They are divided into Animal Tales, How and Why Stories, Moral stories, and Legends and Fairy Tales. I expected to find parallels to European, tales, and did, but was surprised when one of the how and why stories How the Earth was made was striking in its resemblance to Native American (Chippewa and Interior Salish) creation tales. The Ukrainian one is unique in that the creator and Sa tan work together to create the earth.
There is something for about every age group in the collection, from simple, repetitive stories for the youngest, through a Cinderella variant, fairy tales, and humorous tales for elementary age children, to suitably spooky and slightly ghoulish tales for the teens. Adults, too, will find much to enjoy. The bibliography, list of publishers and research organizations, and list of bookstores, gift shops, and .catalogs have entries from Canada as well as the U.S. A very welcome glossary and pronunciation guide is also included. An excellent addition to The World Folklore Series, and one to which I know I will return.

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 2, June 1998
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