Traditional Tales Retold by Kelly Morrow April 20 2017
Lazy Jack; King Thrushbeard; The Prince and the Dragon; and Sylvain and Jocosa
When class teacher Kelly Morrow’s search for first readers appropriate and challenging for her students proved fruitless, she created her own. The four little books range from 18 to 38 pages. Each book tells a folk story in a simple, clear, but interesting way, and each story is enriched by a moral truth. The cover of each is an engaging color illustration, and there are black and white drawings throughout.
Lazy Jack is the first in the series. Jack’s lack of will renders him unable to complete the simplest of practical tasks in life. This problem becomes quite hilarious and meets the budding sense of humor of the eight- to nine-year-old. Jack learns that he must apply his will again and again. Through this time of learning, he shows his respect and love for his mother. Ultimately, his perseverance and desire to learn leads to reward and happiness. This moral can be a stimulus for those children who are having trouble applying themselves fully in their daily work and learning.
In King Thrushbeard, the second reader, the haughty princess must endure hardship, pain, and loss in order to be cured of her arrogance. Through these experiences, she is transformed and begins to realize her true self. Because of her efforts to change, she gains “riches” and happiness in the world. The children are made aware of the dangers of pride and of the teasing of others that can arise from it.
The prince and the princess in The Prince and the Dragon, the third reader, are like two types of children in our classrooms today. One wants to conquer everything with force and might. The other is quite sensitive, sometimes fearful, yet highly aware of the emotional, nonverbal mood of the room or a person. The prince and princess encounter the dragon—the one who swallows you if you are not awake and alert. He already has many in his power. The mighty young prince fights and fights, making little progress. He must wait for the timid one to gain enough courage to assist him. The prince supports the princess in her effort to grow stronger. Then, and only then, when they unite together, are they able to conquer the dragon. Once this uniting has occurred, they can go forth into the world to help others. It is a powerful story for the individual, for the community, for the world in our day.
Sylvain and Jocosa is the fourth reader, and takes a step beyond the first three readers in the complexity of the story. It is about friendship, commitment, the pain of separation, and reveals the help from the spiritual world that is always available. The level of difficulty increases with each reader, with the leap from the third to the fourth somewhat larger. Each may be used individually. No story content or skills are missed by using them separately or in a different order.
~ Reviewed by Ronald E. Koetzsch