Sunday, November 22, 2009


Book Review


By Becky Mushko

Illustrated by Bruce Rae

$7.00 per copy
Available January 2010 from Cedar Creek Publishing.
Phone: 800-431-1579.
Becky Mushko’s website:
Cedar Creek Author Page: Mushko.html

Reviewed By Linda Goodman

         Becky Mushko wrote Ferradiddledumday in 1997 to showcase her friend Susan Alkhadra’s spinning abilities and to teach youngsters about the flora and fauna of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The story was originally written to be told,
but demand for copies lead to its publication in Blue Ridge Traditions magazine in 1998 and, ultimately, to this book.

      Ferradiddledumday is an Appalachian Version of Rumpelstiltskin. A need for money prompts the heroine, Gillie, a master spinner, to make a deal that appears to be a blessing, but turns out to actually be a curse. In the end, bald-faced
luck saves the day, and all live happily ever after. Those who have read Rumpelstiltskin will recognize the familiar motifs.

        The charm of Mushko’s tale lies in its Appalachian authenticity. Her words paint pictures of mountains brimming
with ticks, chiggers, rattlesnakes, and copperheads. When Gillie walks the mountains, she is loved by the pipsissewa,
the maidenhair ferns, and the dogtooth violets, all of which beg her to pick them. Superstition plays a part, too, as bad
omens appear in threes: Gillie spills salt; a bird flies through the cabin; and her father sees the moon over his left shoulder.

       Hence, the appearance of a strange little man who hears the trees whispering among themselves. Gillie’s misfortune could very well be his gain. His magic could very well be her salvation. As every lover of fairy tales knows,
 however, magic comes at a price, in this case a dear one.

       Bruce Rae’s sketches enhance the story without overwhelming it. His attention to minute detail gives the reader a sense of both the Appalachian environment and the culture. He was a good choice to illustrate this book.
This book includes a study guide that highlights the literature, history, geography, and science particular to the Appalachians. A lively and informative discussion should ensue.

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