We are delighted to join author Lari Don on her Fierce, Fearless and Free blog tour. Lari’s latest book, illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon, is a collection of traditional tales from around the world which features ‘amazing women and girls.’ We really enjoyed reading the stories which also gave us an insight into other cultures and historical periods.
Fierce, Fearless and Free includes myths and legends from China, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico and Nigeria. The stories have feisty determined heroines who face magic, danger and adversity head on – no handsome princes needed!
We particularly loved the stories about Kandek tricking a wolf, the way that giant Neringa rebuffed the sea dragon’s marriage proposals, how Bridget’s quick thinking thwarted witches and the story of Sister Lace who ingeniously outwitted the emperor.
Eilidh Muldoon’s fabulous illustrations at the beginning of each chapter introduce us to each woman or girl. We particularly like the illustrations of Petrosinella in the tower and Medea and the Metal Man. Also included at the end of the book are short, really interesting descriptions about the background to each story and where Lari first discovered them.
Lari has written over 30 books but she’s also passionate about telling stories and the magic that can be shared when you put a book down and tell a story in your own words.
Thank you Lari for telling us about…
The Power of the Story
I write books, but I also tell stories out loud. Often, the stories I tell to groups of kids in school halls or classrooms or libraries are stories I’ve written down. But I don’t read from the book. If I’m telling a myth or legend or folktale, I put the book down, and I tell the story to the twenty or two hundred kids with my voice, my eyes, my hands, my arms, my whole self. And I tell it TO them. I ask them questions, I invite them to join in, I adapt as I go along depending on their reactions. And I look at them as I tell them the story. There is nothing between us, not a book, not a desk, not a screen. Just a story shared, from one person to another…
There is nothing quite like the silence in a room full of kids when a told-out-loud story reaches a dramatic moment, and I pause…
There is nothing quite like sharing a story, out loud, that has been shared by generations of storytellers. The story itself has power. The story itself has lasted and survived, which gives the teller confidence in passing it on.
And, of course, the story has changed. I change stories when I tell them. I don’t change the heart of the story, but I definitely tinker with the edges, to make it work in my voice, for a particular audience. I encourage kids to play with the stories too, to retell them, to twist and change them, to create new stories or artwork inspired by them.
These traditional tales are a vital part of our culture and selves, so it’s important to consider the balance of stories we share with our young people. For example, I’m passionate about finding and sharing stories about strong girls, who defeat their own monsters and solve their own problems, rather than needing male characters to come and save them.
And because I can’t visit every school and meet every child, I gather the stories I love the most into books. When I write a collection of myths and legends, I aim to keep the rhythm and atmosphere of the told story in the written word.
And I hope that you enjoy reading my collections. But I also hope that you sometimes put the book down and share the story you’ve just read, in your own voice and your own way.
It doesn’t have to be a huge performance, it can just be:
Hey, I just read a story about a girl who escapes from a werewolf…
Or, I know a story about a goddess who was annoyed by a mountain…
Or, do you know the fairy tale about a girl with a sheep’s head…?
Because there’s a magic in sharing stories out loud, and no new-fangled technology – printing presses or typewriters or the digital revolution – can take that magic away. Just so long as we keep telling the stories…
Thank you Lari, it’s fascinating to read about your experiences as a storyteller. We really enjoyed reading Fierce, Fearless and Free and look forward to reading your other story collections.
Lari Don is an award-winning writer for young people of all ages. She loved Scottish traditional tales as a child, and now loves gathering myths, legends and folktales from all over the world to inspire her novels. Since becoming a full-time author, she has written more than 30 children’s books, from picture books and early readers to middle-grade adventure novels and a teen thriller.
Lari is passionate about visiting schools and libraries to share the traditional tales she loves, to show how those old stories can be used to inspire new stories, and to encourage young people to create their own adventures. Fierce, Fearless and Free is her fifth collection of traditional tales for Bloomsbury, returning to the theme of her first, the bestselling Girls, Goddesses and Giants. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two fierce, fearless and free daughters.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending a review copy of this fabulous book! You can read more about Lari and Fierce, Fearless and Free on the other blog tour stops.