A handsome, cocky young man is swept up by a dark horseman and cast into a life-or-death adventure. A pair of green children emerge from a remote hollow and struggle to adapt to a strange new land. A dauntless farm girl finds that her fearlessness earns her a surprising reward. Dark but often funny, lyrical yet earthy, the folktales presented here have influenced our landscape and culture. This definitive collection of forty-eight stories, retold by master storyteller and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland, opens a doorway to a lost world and shows the enduring power of language and imagination.
|Product dimensions:||6.04(w) x 5.04(h) x 1.13(d)|
|Age Range:||11 - 15 Years|
About the Author
Kevin Crossley-Holland is a Carnegie Medal-winning author and a well-known poet. He is the author of the Arthur trilogy, including The Seeing Stone, which won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, as well as Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki. He currently resides on the north Norfolk coast in England.
David Shaw-Parker trained at RADA and began his career at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since then, he has frequently appeared on stage, including in London's West End and at The National Theatre. In addition to stage work, he has numerous television and film credits, including Endeavour, Victoria, The Crown, Kafka, and The Muppets' Christmas Carol. As a voiceover artist, he records radio dramas and audiobooks regularly.
Read an Excerpt
The Dark Horseman
As Jemmy strode down the road toward Slane, he began to say praises.
“Praise be and I’m Irish,” he said, and he swiped at a clump of nettles with his shillelagh. “Praise be and it’s the top of the summer.”
Jemmy’s trousers flapped at his step, and by the wayside poppies and cornflowers nodded and smoldered and beckoned.
“My cattle are sleek,” said Jemmy. “They’re buttery creatures! They’ll sell well at the fair. And then I’ll drink a whiskey, and take a turn on the whirly horses, and talk to a girl with stars in her eyes.”
Jemmy Nowlan managed an estate outside Slane, and he had sent ahead his cattle early that morning. Jemmy was tall; he was very strong; he was handsome and he knew it.
“Praise be and I’m alive,” he said. “Praise be and praise be and I’m Jemmy Nowlan.”
While Jemmy was crossing the lonely heath just outside Slane, the clouds began to gather over his head. The summer’s day that had begun with scents and sunlight and soft, dawdling wind turned beetle-browed and bellowing.
Then Jemmy heard the clop-clop of a horse coming up behind him. He turned ’round and saw a young dash of a man riding on a black horse: black velvet jacket, white ruffles at his wrists, starched wing collar, shiny black boots. Jemmy looked up and saw the man was swarthy, and his skin was almost dark.
“Jemmy Nowlan,” said the dark horseman. “I’ve been looking for you all along the road.”
Jemmy Nowlan looked startled. He was sure he had never seen the man before.
“Come on up!” said the man. “There’s a storm in the sky. I’ll take you to the fair at Slane.”
Jemmy didn’t want to ride with the man. Not at all. He began to feel quite nervous and gripped his shillelagh.
“Ach!” he said, looking up at the black sky and wrinkling his nose. “The weather’ll be all right again soon.”
And as he spoke, Jemmy could hear distant voices inside his head. He had to close his eyes to make out what they were saying: “Still such a young man and just whisked away . . . they took him into the heart of the hill . . . a prisoner, a prisoner . . . and the only times they ever saw him was along with the walking dead. . . .”
“I’m going there myself.” The voice of the horseman brought Jemmy back from his reverie. “And I’d be glad of your company, Jemmy Nowlan.”
“Ach!” said Jemmy. “It’s not for the likes of me to ride with the likes of you.”
“I insist!” said the dark horseman.
Then he stooped and just touched one of Jemmy’s shoulders with his ivory whip. And the next thing Jemmy knew, he was mounted behind the dark horseman, and the horse was galloping like a storm of wind.
The horseman said nothing. He rode until the horse was sweating and foaming. He rode across wild heathland where Jemmy had never been before, and on into an oak forest, and up to a castle set in a green glade.
As they cantered over the drawbridge, Jemmy saw that dozens of servants were standing on the steps around the massive door, waiting to welcome them. They all wore the same livery — green and gold — and all of them were even smaller than the two dwarfs at Slane fair.
“Well!” they cried. “If it’s not Jemmy Nowlan! Welcome, Jemmy Nowlan!” Scrambling around him and standing on each other’s shoulders like a troupe of acrobats, they helped Jemmy dismount; they dusted him down; they put a drink in his ﬁst; they asked what they could do for him.
“Very civil!” said Jemmy, and he took off his jaunting hat and ran a hand through his thick black hair. “Very civil!”
Then Jemmy saw a man waiting on the steps. He stood at least as high as Jemmy’s hip, and he was wearing a sumptuous outﬁt of purple and gold. So, Jemmy Nowlan, Jemmy thought, the lord himself has come out to greet you.
“Take Jemmy to his room,” said the lord. “Let him dress.”
Several servants escorted Jemmy to his room high in the castle, where his new clothes were waiting for him: a ﬁne suit of brown velvet, and a cap and feather. Jemmy looked at them in admiration and delight.
Far from leaving him to look after himself, the green-and-gold servants would not allow Jemmy to lift a ﬁnger. They took off his jacket and his shirt and his trousers, untied his shoes, and washed him after his journey.
“Blessings!” exclaimed Jemmy. “There’s nothing wrong with this.”
When the little servants had dressed Jemmy in his resplendent new outﬁt, they hurried him down a flight of circular stone steps, trotted beside him along dim passageways, and led him into the castle hall.
This hall was hung with Chinese lanterns and garlands of flowers. Down at the far end, a group of musicians was playing ﬁddles, and the little people were dancing.
“There’s a sight!” said Jemmy. “I’ve never seen anything so lovely.”
Most lovely of all were the ladies, with their flashing smiles, and their throats and ﬁngers all covered in jewels. Jemmy couldn’t take his eyes off them.
“Will you dance with me, Jemmy Nowlan?” asked one lady.
“No, Jemmy!” said another. “You must dance with me.”
And like a hundred winter sparrows and a hunk of bread, all the ladies in the hall pecked and squabbled over which of them should dance with Jemmy Nowlan in his brown velvet suit.
“Blessings!” cried Jemmy. “I’ll dance with you all.”
And that is what he did. He danced with every single lady in the room, until he was so tired that the only thing he wanted to do was to lie down there and then, and go to sleep.