Kate Milford has gathered up a collection of 15 folk tale storytellers. All individuals with secrets of their own, and a young lady determined to find them. The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book is a middle school read with a decidedly scary side to it.
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The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book, the basic details
The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book is book five in the Greenglass House Story. 400 pages of spine-tingling folk tales that seem to be unconnected, but in the end are. Put together by Kate Milford I learned in the footnotes that this work was originally by Phineas Amalgram who was a Nagspeake folklorist. But given the interesting way this book was put together… I dunno if the author is just messing with my mind. The intended audience is youth 8-12 years old.
What do you get?
15 distinctly different people telling 15 different, yet occasionally similar, folk tales. These aren’t light fluffy folk tales, these are the old folk tales. Dark, captivating, drawing you in, and with a lesson to learn.
I can’t say that I read every word as I don’t do alarming well, but for the most part as I wrote on Facebook “I felt like I should be alarmed but like I was watching these stories unfold in a dream”. That distance made the stories dark and a curiosity as opposed to “let’s get scared”.
Each story told it’s own tale, and admittedly, some of them were quite interesting and got a full read. They seemed to stand on their own, but mid-way through it was obvious that they were somehow connected.
In this review copy from Raincoast Books, all the images were in greyscale and not all images were included.
I found the youngest member of this troupe to be a fascinating little girl. A very observant young lass with peculiar talents. The story took an unexpected twist at the end that caught me off guard. I can well imagine that a child might have a similar reaction, and would advise a parent being a sounding board should that be necessary.
Should you get it?
Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t see The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book as a middle school read, I don’t. But that’s because I don’t do scary or generally even mildly alarming. As such, I don’t care to see middle school students do so either.
Now… would I use selected stories? For sure. Some of them were fascinating, and if you’ve ever read through some of Grimm’s fairytales (the originals) … some of these tales would fit in with them. So if you were going to a study on folk tales and how they have meaning under the surface… grab it up. See folktales from different traditions and analyze them. Pick carefully, and discover important lessons.