Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scotland the Brave

If Pixar's upcoming movie Brave puts you in the mood for all things Scottish, check out these books featuring fearless Scottish girls and women the next time you are in the library:

The Black Bull of Norroway

This old Scottish tale is reminiscent of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and "Beauty and the Beast," except with more action on the heroine's part.  A young woman announces that it doesn't matter who her suitor is--he could be  the black bull of Norroway-- the only requirement is that he is kind and good. Naturally, the black bull of Norroway shows up and whisks her away.  The beast's gentleness soothes her fears; when she removes a splinter that's causing him to limp, he turns into the handsome Duke of Norroway. (Surprise, surprise.)  Ah, but this is not the end of our tale, for the Duke of Norroway must slay the Guardian of the Glen.  Peggy Ann's impatience and concern over his fate lead her to rescue him and find three treasures in the meantime.

Tam Lin (Jane Yolen also wrote a version of the ballad)

Tam Lin tells the tale of Princess Margaret, who saves the handsome young knight Tam Lin from the conniving and evil Elfin Queen.  Both versions are told by expert storytellers; Yolen's version offers more information on the ballad itself. 

The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies

According to this tale, fairies feast on the leftover crumbs of cake.  Unfortunately (for the fairies), the heroine of this story bakes such delicious cakes that no leftover crumbs are to be found. The enraged King of the Fairies orders her to be snatched by the fairies and to bake for the little creatures.  The baker insists that she can only bake her magnificent cakes if she has certain things from her household: namely, her own cookware, her dog, her cat, and her child. Wild chaos ensues.

Girl in a Cage

In 1306, eleven year old Princess Marjorie, daughter of the newly crowned King Bruce of Scotland, and other female members of the Bruce family are imprisoned in cages by King Edward I of England.  The English king taunts Marjorie each night with news of Scotland's defeats, and the locals throw rotten fruit at her.  Marjorie remains loyal to Scotland and even manages to recruit others to Scotland's cause during her imprisonment. 

Quest for a Maid

Nine year old Meg, her servant, and her betrothed must overcome numerous challenges and obstacles to save and return the rightful heir to the throne, an eight year old Norwegian princess.   Not only is Quest for a Maid a riveting adventure tale, it also has one of the best opening sentences in children's literature: "When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

Our summer reading program is in full swing! Check out all the fun (and free!) activities and information here.

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