Book review: The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland, by Jan Pieǹkowski and David Walser

Pieǹkowski, Jan and Walser, David. The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland.  Candlewick Press, 2014. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7320-8. 84 pages. Ages 6-12. P7Q8. Pronunciation guide included.

pienkowski-glass-mountainGreed, dragons, kings, frogs, love, spells, witches, and mermaids: all elements of traditional Polish fairy tales are found in this special story collection. Pieǹkowski uses a distinctive cut-paper technique that he learned as a child in Poland to produce dramatic and vibrant illustrations for the  stories.  My favorite story is the story of The Miller’s Daughters. The father did not want to favor one daughter over another and he wanted all three to learn to read. Yet he was unable to afford a tutor for all three.  He gave up on the idea until a former teacher came begging for something to eat. The miller offered the woman a place to stay in exchange for helping his daughters learn to read. Two daughters were more wrapped up in beauty, shopping, dancing and music than learning to read and could not be bothered.  Wanda was enthralled with the secrets that waited within the pages of the books she kept by her bed. When a wicked magician tricked the girls into captivity, it was Wanda’s ability to read that saved them.

September 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

[Editor’s note: This collection of 8 traditional Polish folk tales is the fourth book collaboration between Jan Pieǹkowski and David Walser.  The stories include “The Fern Flower,” “The Krakow Dragon,” “The Frog Bride,” “The Miller’s Daughters,” “The Trumpeter of Krakow,” “The Glass Mountain,” “Pan Twadrdowski,” and “The Warsaw Mermaid.”]


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