Wednesday, September 30, 2015

[BOOK REVIEW] Two Greedy Bears by Mirra Ginsburg

Title:  Two Greedy Bears

Author:  Mirra Ginsburg

Genre:  Folktale / Manners / Hungary / Trickery / Animals

Year Published: 1976

Year Read:  2015

Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 3+ (Some Fight Scenes)

Buy or Add on:  Amazon  //  Goodreads

I have read many folktales from around the world, but I rarely read folktales that came from Hungary!  “Two Greedy Bears” by Mirra Ginsburg along with illustrations by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey seems like a familiar story that I had heard of many times before, but I have never actually read the actual tale of this lesson.  Well, now this is the first time I had read the original tale and I loved it!

The book starts off with two young bear cubs running outside to see the world until they stumbled upon a brook.  Both of the bear cubs wanted to drink out of the brook, but when one of them replies that he is thirsty, the other one replied that he is thirstier and this leads to the two bear cubs trying to outdo each other by seeing who could drink the most water from the brook.  The bear cubs drank so much water from the brook that they ended up having huge stomachaches and they had to sleep it off until the next morning.  When the bear cubs felt better the next morning, they continued to explore the world until they found a large round of cheese lying on the ground.  The bear cubs wanted to divide the cheese among themselves, they could not figure out a way to divide the cheese equally.  So, they started to fight each other until a fox came by and wanted to help the bear cubs divide the cheese.

Will the fox help the bear cubs divide the cheese?

Read this book to find out!

I was seriously amazed at how Mirra Ginsburg made the story as simplistic as possible, while still delivering the message about how becoming greedy can come with its own consequences.  Now even though I had read many folktales that dealt with the consequences of greed, this book was quite unique as it showed more about what happens if you let greed get to you, rather than outright telling the reader that greed is never a good thing.  I also thought that it was quite hilarious and creative at what happens at the end of this book (I will not spoil it for anyone who has not read this book yet) as I found myself laughing at how the fox solved this dilemma between the bear cubs!  Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey’s artwork were truly cute to look at as the two bear cubs had different shades of color as one was brown and the other was yellow as it helps the reader tell them apart.  I also loved the fact that the bear cubs were round and fluffy as it shows how innocent they are and yet, they do not understand about greed and therefore they get themselves into trouble whenever their greed gets the best of them.

Overall, “Two Greedy Bears” is a truly fantastic book for children who wants to learn about the consequences of greed and wants to read a folktale that comes from Hungary!  I would recommend this book to children ages three and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

[BOOK REVIEW] Toads and Diamonds by Charlotte Huck

Title:  Toads and Diamonds

Author:  Charlotte Huck

Artist:  Anita Lobel

Genre:  Family / Fairy Tale / Manners / Magic

Year Published: 1996

Year Read:  2015

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Child Mistreatment)

Buy or Add on:  Amazon  //  Goodreads 

Now to be honest, I had heard of this story through an episode of “Adventures from the Book of Virtues” and I really enjoyed it!  So, when I finally got the chance of reading this story in book format, I was just as impressed with this book that was written by Charlotte Huck along with illustrations by Anita Lobel, as I was with the TV episode!

There once lived a widow who had two daughters: one was her daughter Francine, who was spoiled and cruel like her mother and the other was Renee, who is kindhearted and is actually her stepdaughter.  Renee is often mistreated by her stepmother and Francine as they force her to do all the housework, including getting water from the spring every day.  One day, when Renee had to go to the spring to gather water, she meets up with an old woman and the old woman asks Renee if she could have some water.  Renee gladly gives the old woman some water from her cup and the old woman decided to give Renee a reward for her kindness.  The reward ends up being that whenever Renee speaks, flowers, diamonds and pearls will fall from her mouth.  When Renee showed this gift to her stepmother and Francine, her stepmother decided that Francine must receive the same gift as Renee and she forces Francine to go out and meet the old woman by the spring.

Will Francine get the same gift as Renee?

Read this book to find out!

I actually really enjoyed this version of the classic French tale about the power of true kindness!  I have read many fairy tales and folktales that has a “Cinderella” vibe to them and this tale definitely has the classic “nice girl who lives with a cruel step family” element woven into the story!  Charlotte Huck’s storytelling is fantastic as Renee is portrayed as being a resourceful female protagonist who tries to think her way out of troublesome situations (just as the author stated in her author’s note that she wanted to create a more resourceful protagonist rather than the stereotypical helpless female protagonist that is often shown in some fairy tales and folktales).  I was also impressed with the idea about how Renee is rewarded for her kindness by having pearls and flowers coming out of her mouth every time she talks since I wondered to myself about how a regular person would feel about having jewelry coming out of their mouths (personally, if someone rewarded me with the gift of getting diamonds and flowers, I wouldn’t want them to come out of my mouth)!  Anita Lobel’s artwork is truly gorgeous to look at as the environment surrounding the characters is lushly drawn and they bring so much beauty to the story.  I also loved the clothing that the characters wear as they represent the Renaissance Age and they bring an exotic tone to the story.

The only problem I have with this book is that in some of the artwork, the characters’ facial expressions look a little off, such as their mouths are almost opened in every panel and I have to wonder to myself about whether or not they really fit in well whenever the characters are getting angry or happy during a situation in the book.

Overall, “Toads and Diamonds” is a fantastic book about the power of kindness and how it can bring its own rewards.  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the length of this book might be tiresome to smaller children.

Blog Ahead 2015 (October 1-31st)

blog ahead 2015

Hey everyone! I'm joining yet again another challenge for my blog and it's called Blog Ahead, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Herding Cats and Burning Soup!  I'll try to make it my goal to have at least 31 posts at the end of October!  I'll keep my updates here and on the challenges page!  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fairy Tale and Folktale Fridays #9: Koi and the Kola Nuts

Hey there!  Welcome to "Fairy Tale and Folktale Fridays," a new feature on my blog where I discuss about some fairy tales and folktales I have read throughout the years. 

Koi and the Kola Nuts


Type: Folktale

Country of Origin: Africa

Main Character Hero or Heroine: Hero

Recommend?: Yes!

The story starts off with the chief of a village dying and the elders decided to divide the chief's possessions among his sons.  Unfortunately, one of the chief's sons, Koi, was in the woods hunting when they started passing out the chief's possessions and no one came to get him when the distributions were being done.  When Koi finally arrives at the village, the village elders were too lazy to redo the distributions of the chief's possessions and gave Koi a measly Kola tree to make up for it.  Koi was angered by this injustice and he decided to leave the village to search for another village that would actually treat the son of a chief with respect.  While Koi went on his journey, he meets up with several animals along the way which included a snake, an army of ants and an alligator and he manages to help them all by giving them some of his Kola Nuts.  When Koi finally arrives at a village, the people of that village wanted to eat Koi due to them thinking that he is not a son of a chief, but the chief of that village decided to give Koi a few tasks to complete in order to prove that he is indeed the son of the chief.

I have always enjoyed this story since it teaches about being respectful towards other people and how helping out people in need always comes with their own rewards!  I really liked the fact that Koi met up with so many animal characters who had problems of their own and how he manages to help them out since it made me really love Koi as a character and the kindness he shows to everyone he meets along the way.  I was also a bit shocked and interested in the fact that the villagers were willing to eat Koi if he didn't prove himself as the son of the chief since it brought so much tension to the story that I was literally hoping that Koi would make it out of this situation alive!


1. Is this a good story about teaching children to respect other people?

Yes, I think that this story is good for teaching children about the importance of respecting other people, especially since I thought that Koi was treated horribly when the elders distribute his father's possessions without consulting him first.

2. Who's your favorite animal character?

I was always interested in the alligator since his issues were more interesting than the other animals (eating a dog and incurring the wrath of a Thunder God? Interesting).  I also liked the way that the alligator helped out Koi in his dilemma with his tasks.

3. Were you scared when the villagers tried to eat Koi?

I was a bit freaked out when the villagers tried to eat Koi since it's rare that I see cannibalism approached in a children's story.

4. What other African folktales have you read?

I've read Anansi a few times and I'm looking forward to reading more African folktales if there are other folktale enthusiasts who want to recommend me some titles!


Koi and the Kola Nuts by Verna Aardema



Koi and the Kola Nuts by Brian Gleeson