Twenty Jataka Tales
Retold by Noor Inayat Khan
Illustrated by H. Willebeek La Mair
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These twenty tales have been drawn from famous legends concerning the former lives of the Buddha. Beloved by children and adults, they tell of people and animals moved to acts of sacrifice by the noble example of their fellow creatures. There is a wonderful interweaving of a sentient creation throughout these stories. The flavor of these stories will remind you of Aesop, as will the lessons they contain which are so beautifully conveyed. These stories are ideal for reading or telling to children - their highly dramatic adventures that resolve in non-violence and compassion are often just exactly what today's children are hungry for. You'll love the exquisite illustrations, also - there is a light delicacy to them that at the same time conveys enormous strength - just right for these tales.
Myths and Legends of Japan
F. Hadland Davis
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Wow. What an amazing collections of stories and delicious cultural/historical tidbits - and retold so very well! Here are the most popular Japanese myths of gods, heroes and warriors; legends of Buddha, and of the goddess Benten and the god Daikoku. There are tales of the sea and of Mount Fuji; accounts of superstitions and supernatural beings; observations on the spiritual properties of fans, flowers, mirrors, dolls and butterflies.
The collection begins with the early myths of the gods, which are followed by legends celebrating early heroes and warriors, and includes the earliest example of Japanese romance, "The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Maiden." Many of the legends that follow reflect an exquisite, poetic beauty, though there are some which also exhibit a rather crude realism -- you'll want to pick and choose where children are to be listening.
The author has included a terrific set of appendices, for those of use not very familiar with Japanese culture: there are notes on Japanese poetry, a listing of gods and goddesses, a geneology of The Age of the Gods and an index of poetical quotations. This is another book that has been brought back from the past - originally published in 1913, it is just as alive and amazing today.
Great Myths of the World
Selected and Retold by Padraic Colum
Identical to Myths of the World, but in an older typesetting.
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As a tour of the world's great civilizations and the myths that give voice to their cultures, Padraic Colum's stands out as being not only sweeping in scope but beautiful in voice.As a tour of the world's great civilizations and the myths that give voice to their cultures, Padraic Colum's stands out as being not only sweeping in scope but beautiful in voice. Colum has selected what I will call 'keystone myths' from the ancient cultures that have informed our modern world:
Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Post-Christian Judaism, Greece, Rome, Graeco-Rome, the Celtic world, Finland (Kalevala), Iceland, India, China, Japan, Polynesia, Peru, Central America and Mexico, Zuni.
Colum also treats us to his wonderful essay, "The Significance of Mythology."
This one-volume edition carries within its covers more cultural heartbeats and beautiful vision than any other single book I can think of. Great Myths of the World is a book to enjoy throughout a lifetime. In Waldorf education, many of these myths are at the heart of 4th and 5th grade curricula.