#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Witches and Goddesses Dryads and Priestesses

[Monday Reading] Launch of October – December Reading Theme: Witches and Goddesses, Dryads and Priestesses

Fractured fairy tales featuring strong girls and good witches by Bethan Woollvin.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

Time has just flown by this year. We are now in the last quarter of 2019 and we are excited to launch our October – December reading theme:

I Put A Spell On You: Witches and Goddesses, Dryads and Priestesses in Literature

Essentially, we are looking for books with the following themes:

  1. Witches, faeries, dryads, hags, otherworldly elfin female beings
  2. Stories of evil women (not necessarily witches, but just plain “bad” females)
  3. Stories of women who provide light, hope, and redemption
  4. Surreal and supernatural stories with a dab of magical realism
  5. Mythology, goddesses, mother creators

These three picturebooks seemed like the perfect way to launch our theme with witch hunters, ‘good’ witches, and strong little girls who are perfectly capable of defending themselves from wolves and the occasional evil witch.


Little Red

Written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
Published by Peachtree Publishers (2015)
ISBN: 1561459178 (ISBN13: 9781561459179). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Among the three books here, this is the only one that does not feature a witch, so we begin with this one. It is the first of the fractured fairy tale series published by Woollvin and it shows the expected stark red and black colours, bold lines, and plenty of white spaces for the eyes to rest.

Unlike the traditional fairy tale, however, Little Red is not your credulous, unwitting, naive little girl. She is wide-eyed but keenly aware of the wolf’s disguise.

The copy that I found from the Singapore library is tattered and torn in some places, indicating how popular and well-read it is. The story seemed simple enough, yet it featured a no-nonsense, can-do attitude from Little Red that put a smile on my face.

Whatever happened to this grandma-disguising Wolf, I shall leave for you to discover. But definitely the axe that you can see in the image above played a significant role in the Wolf’s storyline.


Rapunzel

Written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
Published by Peachtree Publishers (2017)
ISBN: 168263003X (ISBN13: 9781682630037). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Among the three books here by Woollvin, this one happens to be my favourite. Unlike the original story, there are no men in this fairy tale, just Rapunzel and the witch who remained unnamed.

The witch was cruel, somewhat frightening, and used Rapunzel’s golden locks “for riches.” Just how wealthy she gets from strands of hair is anybody’s guess. Instead of being passive and despairing about her fate, Rapunzel seemed to not be bothered by her captivity, mainly because she can actually leave the tower any time she pleases, unbeknownst to the witch.

When Rapunzel finally got tired of the witch’s bullying, she simply got rid of her and devoted the rest of her life with her animal friend, hunting down witches.

Not bad for a golden-haired girl trapped in a tower for most of her life.


Hansel & Gretel

Written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
Published by Peachtree Publishers (2018)
ISBN: 1682630730 (ISBN13: 9781682630730) Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This story features a good witch named Willow as the protagonist of the story, rather than the poor, hapless and helpless siblings, Hansel and Gretel. Unlike the original story, the siblings seemed to be spoiled children who refuse to clean up the crumbs in the forest, simply because they could not be bothered.

Willow the Witch, however, was long-suffering and patient. She even offered to prepare a hearty meal for the siblings when she saw them trying to eat up her gingerbread house. Rather than be upset, she offered a feast for them instead.

Yet the siblings did not appear to have enough. They had to wreak havoc in Willow’s house, playing with her magic things, entitled little millennials that they are. What happened to them in the end when Willow finally lost her temper, I shall leave for you to discover.

All three books offer a refreshing twist to these classic tales and witches in fairy stories. They also feature little girls with a clear sense of self, are decisive, and with a remarkable sense of self-efficacy and steadfastness. Find Bethan Woollvin if you haven’t already.


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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[Monday Reading] Launch of October – December Reading Theme: Witches and Goddesses, Dryads and Priestesses

  1. I love the illustrations — what a great way to bring those stories to a new generation.

    Like

  2. lindabaie

    Oh my, I didn’t know about Rapunzel & Hansel & Gretel, have read Little Red & enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks, Myra, love seeing about them & your new theme! FYI, sad to say I still haven’t read it, but purchased ‘Literary Witches’ by Taisia Kitaiskaia last year. It might be great for your theme. Love seeing your posts about your new work & home!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jana Eschner

    I’ve had the Beth Woollvin books on my To Read list for some time. Thanks for reminding me about them. I’ll have to get to the library and see which ones they have. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sarah Sammis

    This series of retellings sounds interesting. My weekly update

    Liked by 1 person

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