Cronnie Wisdom

Crone is "a phase in which you can be more authentic, more capable of making a difference in your family and in the greater world. Life gives you experience, and when you draw from it, that's true wisdom. By the time a woman is in her crone years, she is in an amazing position to be an influence. To change things for the better, to bring what she knows into a situation, to be able to say, 'Enough is enough.' You don't have to just go along with things, which is often a part of the middle years. You're often something of a loose cannon."
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Book Reviews

At the "Wise Crone Cottage" blog and podcast, I focus on stories from the oral tradition, both folktales, and mythologies. It is my goal to share these stories so they won't be forgotten.  In support of this goal, I've started writing book reviews of works on these topics. You can find them on "Goodreads" and "NetGalley."  They will also be posted here. 

December 31, 2023

Swedish Folktales
by John Bauer (illustrator)

To begin with, this is not a book of traditional Swedish folk tales.  This is instead a compilation of children's literature illustrated by John Bauer.  Bauer's illustrations certainly make the book although many of the stories are delightful too.  The following authors are included: Elisa Beskow, Anna Wahlenberg, Alfed Smedberg, Hedge Kjellin, Cyrus Graner, Helena Nyblom, P.A. Lindholm, Jeanna Osterdahl, Walter Strenstrom, Harald Ostenson, W.E. Bjork, and Einar Rosenborg.  This is a reprint of stories contained within several books illustrated by Bauer.  It should not be considered for academic work because there are no references to original sources.

December 31, 2023

The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales by Juwen Zhang

This is a collection of the Lin Lan tales, which include elements from traditional European fairy tales mixed with Chinese culture. These literary tales were written from 1920-1940 and were inspired by traditional Chinese folklore. The stories were selected from several themes including: Love with a Fairy, Predestined Love, and The Hatred and Love of Siblings.  Editor and translator Juwen Zhang includes Tale Types for each story and bibliographic sources.  One surprising twist in these stories is how many end with a violent act.   There is no "happily ever after" assured in the Lin Lan Fairy Tales.


October 15, 2023

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett

This book is another entertaining entry into Emily Wilde's adventures.  It's the sequel to "Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries" written by Heather Fawcett.  The story continues as folklorist Emily Wilde and the fairy king, Wendell Bambleby seek the nexus or doorway from this world into the fairy kingdom to save an academic long trapped there.  Joining them on this expedition is Rose, a stodgy scholar, and Emily's niece, Ariadne.  The book depicts a spell binding world filled with dangerous creatures and many twists and turns. Emily uses her knowledge of stories and folklore to maneuver successfully through it, In this heroine's journey she both saves her love and finds the entrance into his land - a story that will be continued in the next book of the series. The book is best when Emily and Wendell are together, each attempting to make sense of the other's world and their relationship.  And it is that dynamic that will bring the reader back to the series yet again.

August 12, 2023

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Myths)Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It's hard as a reviewer to share your thoughts about an award winning book (perhaps any book) when you don't like it. So if you love this book, stop reading the review now. Baba Yaga Laid an Egg is part of the publisher's "Myth Series": a retelling of a myth in a contemporary and memorial way. So who was Baba Yaga? Baba Yaga is a character from Slavic mythology and folklore. She is a old witch-like woman, who snacks on human bones. Young people, both male and female, prince and commoner, come to her door asking for her help. She often puts them on difficult tasks, and if she finds them worthy, she just might help them after all. Baba Yaga is part trickster and part wise old woman. She lives in a house with chicken legs, and rides in a large mortar with a pestle and broom to guide the way. So that is the folklore around her. You'll find all that and more in Part III of the book, which is a encyclopedia of sorts written about Baba Yaga by one of the book's characters. It's very informative and seems perhaps to be accurate. Sadly, the author failed to provide any bibliographic references so none of it can be verified or used by storytellers or folklorists.

Part I-2 of the book is a novel depicting the lives of four old contemporary women living in a Slavic country. The lives of these women are woven together in two stories along with their interactions with those who are younger. These women are old. Old and not empowered. Old and helpless. Old and decrepit and eccentric. There is little of Baba Yaga in these figures, no fierceness or empowerment. The writing is ageist and stereotypical. The author begins the book by saying "You don't see them at first." She speaks of old women as invisible. But why would you want to look at them in this world. There is no hope. There no depiction of positive aging here. In this world, no one wants to look at them at all. Just a slight shift in the author's perspective would have made all the difference.

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February 2, 2023

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of winter solstice tales as retold by the author. One tale is included for each of the twelve days that "bridge one light cycle to another." Tales from around the world are categorized as "The Theft," The Surrender," and "The Grace." Each tale starts with a brief introduction putting the story within its cultural context. The book ends with solstice activities (rites and games), and songs. Edwards is a teacher and a storyteller. Her orientation makes this book perfect for both the classroom or for seasonal family activities. A complete bibliography is also provided.

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January 31, 2023

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde, #1)Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a delightful read! Emily Wilde, a serious and independent scholar, travels to a remote northern village to study the fairies reported to inhabit the area. This work will complete her tome to be entitled the "Encyclopaedia of Faeries." Emily's adventures into the world of the Fae are recorded in her journal (which becomes the book). She engages in her study as a dedicated folklorist and the text is peppered with references to folktales, folklore and other works. Throughout her stay. she navigates the dangerous world of the Fae, learns how to accept friendship and faces the possibility of unexpected love. The characters are engaging, the plot twists interesting, and the folklore delightful. This is a book this reader did not want to end!

 January 2, 2023Buddhist Myths: Cosmology, Tales  Legends  

Buddhist Myths: Cosmology, Tales Legends by Amber Books
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dougherty’s book focuses on Buddhist myths, tales, and legends. It includes stories of Buddhist cosmology; the life of Buddha; Jakata tales (Buddha’s early life, renunciations, and incarnations); multiple teachings; divine and extraordinary beings (including gods and bodhisattvas); and notable figures (kings, heroes, and saints). Further, the text provides an extensive history of Buddhism with sidebars defining terms, concepts, and cultural elements. The color illustrations of Buddhist art and architecture is just the “icing on the cake.” This is much more than a coffee table book and is recommended for those interested in Buddhist stories, folklore, and culture.

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The Watkins Book of English FolktalesThe Watkins Book of English Folktales by Neil Philip
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an extensive collection of English folktales, with 369 annotated stories included. Each story begins with an introduction that provides a discussion of variants, source (from folklore), tale type, and narrator (with date and location). Stories are from the 19th to early 20th century and include many of the “Jack Tales.” The text contains original dialects. Annotations are provided along with further readings. It is an essential find for folklorists, storytellers, and anyone who loves old tales. The book is an updated edition.

 June 25, 2022

Tomes Scones & Crones: A Paranormal Women’s Fiction Novel (Three Tomes Bookshop Book 1)Tomes Scones & Crones: A Paranormal Women’s Fiction Novel by Colleen Gleason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fun romp and a perfect way to escape. It's part mystery and part magic, filled with crones, witches and fictional characters. It is ultimately the story of a middle-aged librarian who inherits a magical book store and, in doing so, found her way home. The three crone characters are empowering and provide a positive expression of aging. This reader looks forward to meeting all these characters again.

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June 13, 2022

 Little Thieves (Little Thieves, #1)Little Thieves by Margaret Owen. London, UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 2021.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Little Thieves is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Goose Girl.” It’s the story of a maid, Vanja, who becomes a princess by wearing a magical pearl necklace. She steps into the princess’ life just as she is about to marry an evil prince. While the folktale focuses on the princess, this book tells the story of the maid. Vanja is the goddaughter of the goddess Death and Fortune and each are pressuring her to choose between them. In her princess disguise, she robs the aristocracy to acquire enough money to purchase her freedom. Yet, the robberies soon become the subject of a criminal investigation overseen by a Junior Prefect (who ultimately becomes Vanja’s love interest). And if that isn’t enough, Vanja must break the curse of another goddess who punishes her for her lies and thievery. Tick tock! Events collide at the time of the wedding, and it takes one clever plan to save the day. As you can see, the story is complex. While Owen creates an intriguing fantasy world and has strong characterization, the story has a slow start. Fortunately, it speeds up in the end. Its message speaks of class struggles and moral ambiguity. Who has the happier life and what is important?

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May 7, 2022

The Giant Ohl and Tiny TimThe Giant Ohl and Tiny Tim by Christian Barmann and Jack Zipes. Minneapolis, MN:Tiny Mole and Honey Bear Press, 2019.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Giant Ohl and Tiny Tim is reissued by folklorist, Jack Zipes’ publishing company “Little Mole and Honey Bear.” The mission of this company is to republish children’s books with timeless values that address political and moral challenges that run the risk of becoming lost to history.
This is the story of a young boy who befriends a lonely giant. The giant comes to town seeking work. Being large and unaccustomed to the ways of humans, he terrorizes them unknowingly. They soon grow fearful and angry. It was only through the kindness of a child that Ohl was hired and became part of their family. The story continues with two adventures. The giant Ohl frees the town from three devils that were haunting and tormenting the people. Finally, the giant defeats death and forces him to spare both Tiny Tim and the town from a great epidemic. The story ends happily with the giant Ohl living with his family and the townspeople who now recognize him as one of the “most important personalities in the country.” The author of this story Christian Bärmann (1881-1924) was impacted by WWI and its consequences. In The Giant Ohl we see human prejudice against aliens and the immigrant. Bärmann’s illustrations are painterly, rich in tone and highly expressive. This is a story for adults and children. It is one that needs to be remembered.

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February 22, 2022

Tistou: The Boy with the Green Thumbs of Peace by Maurice Druon and adapted by Jack Zipes. Minneapolis, MN: Little Mole and Honey Bear, 1958, 2022.

Tistou is a delightful story in folklorist, Jack Zipes, series of books. Zipes’ publishing company focuses on 19th century children’s books dealing with contemporary and socially relevant themes. Tistou is the story of a young boy being groomed for his father’s weapon’s factory.  But the boy has a gift of a green thumb and discovers he can solve the many problems facing his community by simply making the world more beautiful.  The story has a strong allegorical message of peace and environmental protection and is a wonderful read for both children and adults. Joellyn Rock’s black and white illustrations provide movement and energy to the story.  Zipes mission in life is to “unbury dead and neglected authors of fantasy and create conditions for a better world.” With Tistou he has successfully achieved his goal!

 February 13, 2022

 Young Oracle Tarot: An initiation into tarot's mystic wisdomYoung Oracle Tarot: An initiation into tarot's mystic wisdom by Suki Ferguson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This highly illustrated guide to tarot is written for young readers. Described as a tool to solve problems and make decisions, tarot is designed to “unlock inner wisdom and steer destiny.” The goal is to enhance the reader’s intuition by connecting with the unconscious mind. The book is divided into three sections: “What is Tarot,” “About the Cards,” and “Reading of the Cards.” There is a brief interpretation of each card found in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Symbols are discussed, history and cultural issues are also addressed. Various card spreads for reading are included. While this book is designed for young readers, adults would find it simple way to use tarot as a tool for inner growth and intuition.

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January 15, 2022



The Story of Silence is a retelling of the 13th-century French romance poem “The Romance of Silence.” This medieval tale is one of a girl child, Silence, who is raised as a boy.  The father requires this deception so that the laws of inheritance remained uninterrupted.  The story follows the life of Silence from birth to knighthood to final disclosure by the Arthurian wizard, Merlin.  In modern terms, the story reflects questions of nature vs nurture.  We see the stereotypical expression of masculinity and femininity in many of the characters. The story questions what roles are appropriate for each gender.  In this world, genders are clearly identified: women are deceptive and seductive, while men are violent and greedy.  The opportunities for women in the medieval world are limited and narrow. Yet in The Story of Silence, we see how the nobility, bravery and skill of a knight are not solely male qualities but ones that develop through hard work, determination, and valor. This novel addresses the ideas of gender as a construct. How gender is expressed seems more the result of culture and experience than to biology. Perhaps much of what is thought to be male or female can exist successfully in either sex.

The writing is rich in imagery and character.  The medieval world becomes alive, especially in regard to the life and training of the knight.  Yet, at times the writing seems to plod along.  It reads much slower than might be wanted and some summary of the plot is perhaps needed at times to maintain the reader’s interest.

Myers, Alex, The Story of Silence.  New York: Harper Collins, 2020.

September 13, 2021





The Last Fallen Star (a Gifted Clan novel) by Gracie Kim is a book of "tween," fantasy, fiction.  It is the story of a young Korean girl, Hattie, who was adopted into a magical clan. Hattie feels like an outsider because she has no magic. While seeking to acquire it, a misplaced spell puts her sister’s life in peril.  This is Hattie’s hero’s journey to rescue her sister and discover her own identity and place in the world. The backstory is based on Korean mythology, and it is filled with witches, goddesses, and creatures from another world.  Filled with Korean language and culture, there are references to popular K-pop figures and K-drama. Fortunately, the author provides a glossary should the reader lose track of the meaning of the Korean words. First, in the “Gifted Clan” series, the reader is left with many questions and much anticipation for the next installment.

 Kim, Gracie, The Last Fallen Star (New York: Disney Hyperion, 2021).

 June 11, 2021 

My Story FriendMy Story Friend by Kalli Dakos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all know the storyteller. But did you know about the "story friend"? The story friend is the one who listens to our saddest and darkest stories. The story friend is patient enough to listen, and brave enough to face the cries and tears of others. This is the story of a young girl who seeks a story friend and finally finds one in an old woman. She hears the words of the child - the words the girl is unable to say to her family. She learned that when you tell your story to someone with an open heart, the stories become "softer like butter." And in doing so, the story tells us just what we need to do. This picture book has a message for all ages. It's a reminder that each of us hold dark stories inside. These could be healed, if only we share them with our story friend.

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April 5, 2021

Greek Mythology: The Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes Handbook:  From Aphrodite to Zeus, a Profile of Who's Who in Greek Mythology by Liv Albert (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2021).

Mythology explains of the beliefs of the ancients.  It answers the most important questions of life and death. How was the world created?  What is the role of humans in that creation?  Who are the gods?  What is our relationship to these gods?  Greek mythology was part of the oral tradition and only later written in stories, poetry and plays. Rather than providing a moral guide or code, the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology often teach us more about what not to do than what to do. These stories of heroes, thwarted love, pride and jealously continue to be referenced today in popular culture (from Harry Potter to Percy Jackson).  Truthfully, there are a plethora of books on Greek and Roman mythology.  What’s different about this one?

Think of this book as a Who’s Who of Greek Mythology. The book is organized by character: the Olympians, Deities (for example, Hercules or Prometheus), Heroes and Mortals.  The author, Liv Albert is a podcaster (“Let’s Talk about Myths, Baby!”).  She provides a contemporary take on these stories, explaining confusing issues, answering common questions and commenting on despicable behavior.  Each “bio” is divided into sections: “What’s his/her deal?”  “The story you need to know,” and “Now you know.” The book a fast way to unravel the story of these characters.  We all know that stories vary depending upon which version you hear.  Accordingly, the author references the reader to other versions of the same story as presented by different characters.  The book is illustrated by Sara Richards.  A short list of resources for further reading is provided but there are no direct references throughout.  This guide is best for teen readers or adults who just want a fast way to maneuver this world. 

February, 22, 2021

Let's Tell a Story: Fairy Tale AdventureLet's Tell a Story: Fairy Tale Adventure by Lily Murray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hundred stories within one illustrated book. The stories change with each telling because it unfolds with the “reader.” On each page an element of a traditional fairy tale begins with a question. For example, what type of hero are you? Where is your destination? Which three items will you take with you? What danger will you face? You can tell a story, write a story, or imagine it instead. Each page is filled with fun and brightly colored objects, people, and places to select from. The story unfolds page by page as the reader make another choice to bring the story to life. It is a wonderful tool for parents who are running out of bedtime stories; and a powerful way to enhance creativity, imagination, and language skills in children. Highly recommended for anyone wishing to share story narrative and structure whether teacher, librarian, parent, storyteller, or child.

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November 15, 2020


This book is simply charming.  It’s as comfortable and enjoyable as a cup of cocoa on a snowy day. The story takes place in a fantasy tsarist Russia.  The tsarina is at war with the Republic of Birds, a magical race that once graced the land.  At least that is, before the firebird’s egg appeared.  The story tells of Olga’s hero’s journey, one filled with bravery and even a rescue.  It has many delightful references to Russian folklore and culture including maps and yagas, huts with chicken legs, and Russian ballet.  The characters are all well-defined.  This is especially true of the older women who instead of witches become wise (sometimes magical), and glorious crones. When the tale was finally over, this reader longed for a sequel to discover just what Olga did next!

Published by Amulet Books, 2020.

Oct. 23, 2020



Blyth crafted her small book around the Grimm folktale of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” (also known as “The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces”).  It’s the tale of 12 sisters who sneak off at night to dance with the fairies. Each day they return with their shoes worn out.  The King imprisons them and proclaims that any man who can uncover the mystery can marry one of his daughters. If the suitor fails, then it’s off with the head!  The sisters drug the men so they can’t be followed. But a soldier (with help from an old woman) finally solves the puzzle.  The story ends with him marrying the older sister. 

This is where Blyth’s prose poems pick up the tale. For each sister she creatively envisions her life after the bliss and intoxication of the otherworld.  She weaves stories of rage and guilt, addiction, and mayhem. Ultimately, it is the tale of women who experienced freedom only to be later confined as the property of men. (And yes, there is a feminist cast to her prose.)  I’m sure each reader will have a favorite sister with her over the top solution to living a life no longer of her own choosing.

Each story is filled with poetic ideas, and beautiful imagery. Each story answers the question of what happens after “happily ever after.” Best of all, Blyth includes “Author’s Notes” that discuss her thoughts on the folktale and how she came to her retelling. 

 Oct. 16, 2020


Tales of the Night Sky by Robin Kerod 

Tales of the Night Sky: Revealing the Mythologies and Folklore behind the Constellations by Robin Kerrod, (London: Quarto Pub., 2020), is a fun mix of science and folklore.  Filled with beautiful illustrations, this book also includes an 18” x 24” constellation wall map.  Each section discusses a specific element of cosmology – “The Universe,” “Patterns in the Sky,” “Around the Constellations,” and “Wandering Stars” (the ancient Greek term for planets).  Written for a young audience, each entry focuses on a specific constellation or planet discussing its history, science, mythology, and folklore (including astrological interpretations).  History and science from early thought (in which the sun rotates around the earth) to Copernicus is included; and ancient stories from Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology provided.  All topics are addressed in a clear and simple format often on only a single page. For example, the entry on the Constellation of Cancer includes several stories from Greek mythology in which the crab fights with Hercules during his battle with a hydra.  It also provides early folklore on the “swarm of stars,” found on the center star, Praesepe, which is called the “beehive cluster.” Some entries also provide a brief astronomy discussion. The associated illustration shows the star chart and the ancient depiction of the Cancer constellation.  A glossary is included. For both teachers and storytellers, this book contains the perfect blend of science, history, and folklore to create an entertaining and educational story or introductory lesson plan.




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