Gelert A Man's Best Friend by Cerys Matthews


Gelert A Man's Best Friend by Cerys Matthews

A classic Welsh legend retold by singer and songwriter, Cerys Matthews. Gelert is one of the best-loved traditional tales from Wales. In this version, the beautiful atmospheric illustrations by Fran Evans combine with author Cerys Mathews's retelling of the story in rhyme, making it an ideal read-aloud book.

Reviews the fireside lore of nearly every Aryan people John Fiske, Myths & Mythmakers,(1872). This description of the faithful hound leitmotif, which even has a specific number in the scholarly Arne-Thompson categorisation of folk tales(178A), might bring disappointment to all those adults brought up to believe in the unique Welshness of the tear-jerking legend of Gelert. Yet the story has retained its excitement, its pathos and its cultural integrity. It has been shared by countless generations of children,in classrooms and homes across Wales and far beyond. This simple version, told appropriately in rhyming couplets by singer and songwriter Cerys Matthews, has a hint of the past in its format. It echoes, perhaps, the Celtic bards wooing their princely patrons with romantic tales of bravery, loyalty and chivalry, accompanied by soothing music. This narrative form works well, as the story unfolds, the rhythms complementing both the dialogue and the descriptive text. An occasional blemish as the writer apparently fails to find a true rhyme, provides a minor irritation, and interrupts the movement of the verse. (This is particularly apparent in the page-turn-over rhyme of 'cry'/'alive' 'die

.) Fran Evans, a popular and accomplished illustrator for Pont Books excels at detail, and this is very apparent in those frames where she allows her skills to run wild; the departure for the hunt, with Siwan and the baby in the high tower and the poultry man below feeding his brood is delightful. The scene in the castle cellars where the kitchen staff are preparing supper, innocently unaware of the shadowy wolf on the stair case beyond, is bursting with attention to period detail. The larger images, both of the grieving parents, Prince Llywelyn and Siwan, and the canine protagonists, seem less convincing. Although there is plenty of movement in the streaming mane of the horse, its riders cloak and the sinewy legs of the faithful hound in the opening images, this intensity and conviction of presentation does seem to tire. The constellation of Gelert in the night sky, which closes the book, hoping perhaps to soften its sadness, only serves to heighten one readers unease. The grey-silhouetted image of a modern boy on horseback, gazing upwards at the stars from a field of detailed grasses, flowers and moths does, however, appease the soul ... and the tiny hunting vignette on the final page redeems all! There is so much more to explore in the legend of Gelert that I am sure this entertaining interpretation in picture book form will inspire children, parents and teachers to reach for their laptops, tablets, and even reference books! There they will discover earlier poetic interpretations of the story, earlier illustrations (the Victorians loved the subject) and some fascinating links with real history see the detailed notes on Beth Gellert in Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1892). Indeed its a chance for readers and researchers, of whatever age, to make up their own minds about the historical validity of the story and its contribution both to the Welsh folk legend canon and to Snowdonias tourist industry. Beddgelert here we come! Chris S. Stephens It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

About the Author

Cerys Matthews is well known worldwide as a successful singer / songwriter, author and broadcaster. Formerly the front woman of cult band Catatonia, she was a rock icon in the 1990's. She later returned to her folk roots and has recorded several successful albums. She currently presents her own show on Radio 6, as well as contributing to many television and radio programmes. She is well known for her talent with words, and as a mother of three, ideally placed to rework this Welsh legend for a young, contemporary audience. Her debut publication, Tales from the Deep, was published by Pont Books in 2011.

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Book Info


32 pages


Cerys Matthews
More books by Cerys Matthews


Publication date

18th September 2014



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