Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales

Tuttle. Mar. 2020. 64p. retold by Joan Suyenaga. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780804851503.
Gr 2-6–A bright and redesigned cover adorns this reissue of a 2005 title. Its eight stories dramatize, in Suyenaga’s words, “honesty, determination, cleverness, patience, and bravery.” The stories have a wide thematic range. One tale celebrates love not measured by material value. In another, a headcloth magically defeats a greedy king, while one story shows a poor but lucky boy finding success through the help of a kind chief. Stories have narrative similarities to “Beauty and the Beast,” “Rapunzel,” and Atalanta of Greek mythology; there are strong girls and steadfast boys. Some details are unexplained. Cucumbers and watermelons grown by one hero are inexplicably impervious to blades, and a bloody buffalo legend rests on a couple of improbabilities. But overall, the tales are effectively retold and emotionally resonant. Although these stories are lengthy for group reading, good pacing makes them well suited to one-on-one sharing. Neon color-and-line illustrations flow across spreads, engagingly depicting the landscape, people, the cultural milieu—and one huge hideous demon in close-up.
VERDICT A delightful introduction to the archipelago’s rich and varied culture.

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