“SEVEN FATHERS,” retold by Ashley Ramsden, illustrated by Ed Young, Roaring Brook Press, April 12, 2011, $16.99 (ages 4-8)
Folktales are traditionally passed down through generations, creating a connection with one’s past. That idea is exemplified in “Seven Fathers,” a Norweigian folktale retold by Ashley Ramsden.
A fearsome blizzard has taken shape and a weary traveler knows he has little left in him before succumbing to the elements. He prays for strength and just around the next bend comes upon a house.
In the front yard he comes upon an old man chopping wood.
“Good evening, Father, I’m so glad I found you. Would you, by any chance, have a room where I could spend the night?” He asks the man.
“I’m not the father of the house,” is the reply. “You’ll have to ask my father. He’s around back, in the kitchen.”
Once inside the house, the traveler asks the same question and again is sent to another father. This pattern continues until the seventh father makes an appearance.
This journey within a journey ends with a colorful surprise.
Ashley Ramsden is a strong storyteller. There’s a lilting rhythm to her prose that feels as if a wizened elder is speaking aloud.
And Ed Young’s cut paper collages mixed with line drawings and other graphic elements have a pictograph feel to them, simplistic in form yet eloquent in execution.
Words and illustrations combine here to make a sophisticated and interesting read that will tap into a child’s imagination and make it grow.