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story.lead_photo.caption Folktales for Fearless Girls by Myriam Sayalero, translated from Spanish by David Unger, illustrated by Dani Torrent (Penguin Young Readers, Feb. 25), grades four to seven, 213 pages,$24.99. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

TITLE: Folktales for Fearless Girls

BY: Myriam Sayalero, translated from Spanish by David Unger, illustrated by Dani Torrent (Penguin Young Readers, Feb. 25), grades four to seven, 213 pages, $24.99.

STORIES: These 14 tales come from Russia, England, China, Egypt, Southern Africa, Scotland, France, Germany, Armenia, ancient Persia, with two apiece from Spain and India. All descended through oral traditions and were collected by male academics like the Brothers Grimm. Sayalero has plucked out stories in which smart, desperate girls and women save themselves or their families and, typically, land a virtuous prince in the process.

Many are thus oddball romances. But as the title suggests, happiness happens because of the heroines. In many, badness also happens thanks to female characters, and they are vain or materialistic.

The translation is stodgy, but not off-putting.

My favorite tale is about Aalis, a spoiled child who catches a gorgeous talking fish that threatens to turn her into a fish, too, if she doesn't release it. Although she admits it would be a shame to eat a talking fish, and her mother urges her to let it go because it is clearly magical, Aalis eats the fish anyway and, yes, becomes a fish. And then her adventures begin.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

Style on 03/30/2020

Print Headline: READ TO ME

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