Author: Yoshi Yoshitani
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
First Published: September 1, 2020
Many of the lessons we learn are shared stories passed among cultures and generations. In this riveting collection of fables and folktales from cultures across the globe, characters from beloved fairytales, cultural fables, ancient mythologies, and inspirational deities are brought to life, including Sleeping Beauty (Italy), Rapunzel (Germany), Jack and the Beanstalk (England), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico), Sun God Ra (Egypt), the Crane Wife (Japan), and dozens more.
Lesser-known stories introduce characters such as the volcano goddess Pele from Hawaii; Mwindo, the wise and powerful king of the Nyanga people; and the strong and resilient Yennenga, mother of the Mossi people in Burkina Faso. The recurring themes of conquering evil, overcoming adversity, and finding love and companionship are woven throughout this collection.
Yoshi Yoshitani's art style is fresh and unique, featuring diverse and multicultural characters. Each story will be featured opposite a correlating illustration, both lush and vibrant.
I love mythology and fairy tales, they always give me a cozy feeling that makes me think of my childhood. Even into adulthood, I’m always happy when I learn about a new story, I love diving in and learning more about the lore, or finding retellings. This was what initially caught my attention to Beneath the Moon, an illustrated collection of myths and fables from around the world.
“So often my two halves felt irreconcilably different, but the one thing they had in common was their love of stories.”
I was immediately dazzled by Yoshitani’s gorgeous art style, her art is truly worth the price of admission. There is a full-page illustration that accompanies each story, bursting with vibrant eye-catching colors. I chose to pick this collection up both for myself and also for my daughters to read and enjoy.
As for the actual content, well, the writing was not very compelling. Many of the stories read like an abridged version of each story, it lacked depth and felt like reading summaries from Wikipedia. I can think of more than one mythological figure whose page talked about who they were, stated that they had many adventures, and then included a short summary of one of the fables. I was a little disappointed that the writing wasn’t nearly as good as the art.
Overall it was only okay, I was able to revisit a few myths that I was familiar with while also learning about many that I had never heard of. It is a decent leaping off point to find new and diverse myths for further reading. The simplistic writing style is best suited for very young readers, but parents should be advised to check first for stories with more mature themes.