Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Return of the Light by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Title: The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice
Author: Carolyn McVickar Edwards
Publication Date: 2000
Length: 172 pages (paperback)

The Return of the Light is a collection of stories, most of them involving someone stealing the Sun, and then other characters getting it back. The idea behind these stories is that at the Winter Solstice, the Sun has moved away as far as it's going to, and appears to stay far away, sitting still, causing people to worry that it might not come back.

I normally don't like book introductions very much, for whatever reason. But the introduction to this book really made the book, in my opinion. It describes how ancient people saw the Winter Solstice. Reading it, I could easily imagine living in a time when such an event could be a cause for worry. The Sun has been moving away, and now is sitting still, and the people have to convince it to come back. That's where traditions like the Yule log come from: the log burns, showing the Sun how it's done and convincing it to come back and be bright and hot again. This was a really interesting topic to read about.

As for the stories themselves, I enjoyed them, but I tend to find stories like that kind of repetitive. Which sort of makes sense, since it's basically the same event being explained by different groups of people from around the world. So the interesting thing about them is how similar they are. So I guess I just shouldn't have read them all in a row (the same problem I had when I read The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales).

So overall, I still recommend this book. The introduction is great, and the stories are nice to dip into when you just want to read one short story. They'd be good for reading to kids around the Solstice time, teaching them about the origins of the holiday.

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