Saturday, July 26, 2008

Singing to the Sun by Vivian French and Jackie Morris- ESSENTIAL

French, Vivian Singing to the Sun, illustrated by Jackie Morris. PICTURE BOOK. Kane/Miller, 2008; first published in Great Britain in 2001.


A lord who does not believe in love marries a woman who only believes in gold and they have a son and make him study books and spells. After his 18th birthday they send him off to win the hand of one of three princesses, one whom brings wealth, one lands and the third love and happiness. The parents send him off with the court jester, still arguing over the value of land vs wealth. But the princess may have ideas of her own and being born a prince doesn’t bring wisdom.

While there seems to be a trend in rewriting fairy tales to make the girl be stronger, this trend also seems to make the boy look foolish or useless at the same time. This is a rare tale that lets the princess be strong, while showing the prince a path to actual happiness. This short book makes a powerful statement to counteract a movement that seems to have gone too far in the opposite directions. Teachers in elementary can use this as just a great stiry with beautiful illustrations, while middle and high school Language Arts teachers should make this a part of any unit about fairy tales. Even a Teen Living teacher could use this as a great opener to a discussion about gender roles in fairy tales and the modern world and the effect they have on our self-esteem or world view.



The Ginger Darlings said...

Many thanks for picking up Singing to the Sun by Vivian and myself and also for giving it such a lovely review. Viv is indeed a wonderful writer. Originally she wrote this story for a friend's daughter who wanted to know why none of the princesses in story books looked like her. Too many white skinned blond princesses. It is a powerful tale of love and hate and wisdom and tabbycats.
The version published in 2001 by Walker Books is not the same version but a collection of stories all equally beautiful and is illustrated by Chris Fisher with black and white line drawings. I think my favorite is the Little Beekeeper, a small girl with three blustery brothers and a father who puts more faith in his sons. She is a little wise one and there is a lovely twist. But all of the stories are excellent.
At the end of the day we hoped to create a book in Singing to the Sun that would have something in for children of all ages, from 0 to 110, and at the end of the day it is a simple love story.

Anonymous said...

Hi - and I had to write and say a HUGE thank you for such a lovely review. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments; you made my day.

Vivian French

PS What a great site! I'll be sure to keep reading. I've already made a list from the book reviewed here - I'll be ordering them in asap.