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The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from…

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

by Carolyn McVickar Edwards

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The book didn't have what I was looking for, but I did enjoy reading the different stories about light and the world. ( )
  scote23 | Mar 30, 2013 |
In The Return of the Light Carolyn McVickar Edwards assembles twelve legends, folktales and fairy tales told about the “return of light” that occurs at the winter solstice. I wanted to know more about the roots of the older traditions surrounding the Winter Solstice before it was taken over by the Church. I didn’t really find that, but I did find several different takes from around the world on just what happens during the solstice, the shortest day of the year, and their explanations for why the sun goes away, and more importantly why it comes back after.

The book is divided into three parts, each part containing four stories of a particular way in which the sun is lost at the solstice: the first through theft, the second through surrender and the third by grace. Each part is preceded with a short discussion about the method of reacquiring the sun, and each story is additionally given an introduction explaining the society it came from and where the story originated.

I thought that the introductions to the book and the sections in particular were by turns overly analytical, and then bizarrely whimsical. They could have perhaps been written in a more user friendly way. I am used to reading sociological and historical texts with a lot of technical terms in them and even I found myself lost and re-reading passages trying to get the gist of the great deal of knowledge the author attempted to cram into very little space. This also resulted in a bit of reader's whiplash when you switched to reading the story.

The stories were simplified and written in a very easy to understand and casual manner, particularly the dialogue which was written in a very believable modern day cadence and made the stories easy to read aloud and easy for listeners of any age to relate to. With the skill exhibited here, the stories were very much the book's strong point. I wish the introductions were similarly written, it would have made for a powerful book.

The ending includes several songs and games to be done on the winter solstice. To me these seemed like very much an after thought. The publisher might have insisted they add them, or an editor tacked them on. They were not well thought out, they were sometimes cheesy, even for families with children, and didn't add anything to the book at all.

The stories though were well written, and powerful, reminders of the other cultures that make up this world and of the people of the past and their varying reactions to the, probably at that time terrifying, sight of the sun showing up less and less each day. These stories explained for them what was happening and reassured them that the sun would come back and light would return once again. ( )
  exlibrisbitsy | Mar 31, 2010 |
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The winter solstice, the day the "sun stands still," marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year, and it comes either on December 20th or 21st. Celebrations honoring the winter solstice as a moment of transition and renewal date back thousands of years and occur among many peoples on every continent. "The Return of the Light makes an ideal companion for everyone who carries on this tradition, no matter what their faith. Storyteller Carolyn McVickar Edwards retells twelve traditional tales -- from North America, China, Scandinavia, India, Africa, South America, Europe, and Polynesia -- that honor this magical moment. These are stories that will renew our wonder of the miracle of rebirth and the power of transition from darkness into light.… (more)

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