Stories of dwarfs, fairies, gnomes and elves from around Europe
Edited by Els Boekelaar and Ineke Verschuren
Illustrations by Daniela Drescher
Stories of dwarfs, fairies, gnomes and elves – as well as nature beings by other names – are among the most universal in humanity’s storytelling pantheon. Regardless of the culture of origin, they share insights into the wisdom of nature and the effect of human morality upon it. In fact, all such stories I’ve ever read or heard told are in one way or another morality tales — only here, the human’s morality affects nature and her beings and they, in turn, affect the destiny of the people involved, whether for good or ill. The reverse can also be true: naughty nature beings have their effect in the world and the world and more evolved beings respond to counter it.
However, there is a warmth to these tales that most morality tales lack: even when the deeds arise out of the lower nature of people, or from a recalcitrant gnome, there is a sympathy in the telling that leads to a type of heartwarmed understanding. In short, this quality makes them wonderful for children (and adults, I might add). These stories invite the child into the heart of the world, and evoke a desire to be helpful and kind in the process.
Most of the tales in Over the Hills and Far Away are ideal for children 6-10 years old. Some of the simpler ones would be lovely for children 4 years old or older. This is a wonderful collection of stories made even richer by Daniella Drescher’s beautiful paintings.