Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stories from Songs: Two Reviews

From Reference & Research Book News, May 2009, page 274.

PS476 2008-031208 978-1-59158-424-7
Stories from songs; ballads as literary fictions for young
De Vos, Gail.
Libraries Unlimited, ©2009 452 p. $45.00 (pa)
For storytellers, librarians, researchers and teachers in high schools and colleges who deal with folktales and ballads in their classrooms, De Vos (library and information studies, U. of Alberta-Edmonton) describes modern renditions of traditional ballads that might appeal to teenagers today. For each she sketches the plot, identifies alternative titles, traces its history, samples critical response over the years, and cites contemporary reworkings. The media she considers include novels, short stories, graphic novels, poetry, and of course recordings of the ballad itself. She and Anna E. Altman have produced two previous works that form a trilogy with this one.

From Internet Bookwatch

Lyrics are a form of poetry set to music. Like all good narrative poems, lyrics tell stories blending information, emotions, ideas, ideals, and entertainment. This is especially the case with the folk music genre. In "Stories From Songs: Ballads As Literary Fictions for Young Adults", Gail de Vos (Adjunct Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada) has compiled a 453-page seminal study of folk ballad origins, history, interpretation, and how they have both generally and specifically evolved over time. Illustrative ballads are thematically grouped into 'historical', 'riddle', 'murder', 'tragic love', 'other worldly', 'shape-shifting/female monster', as well as 'tricks and disguises'. Of special note are the chapters devoted to 'talking birds, singing bones, and materializing revenants'. Professor de Vos also includes chapters dedicated to 'ballads as national icons' and concludes with 'A Sampling of Other Ballads' ranging from the well-known 'Pretty Peggy-O' to the obscure 'The Walled-Up Wife'. Enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices, an Author/Illustrator/Musician Index, a Ballad Index, and a Title Index, "Stories From Songs" is an impressively presented, informed and informative scholarly study that is an essential edition to academic library collections and appropriate for both students of Folk Music History and non-specialist general readers with an interest in learning about the background and development of the ballad as a source of information, ethics, cultural development, and social entertainment for teenagers and young adults.

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