Early Reviews from Authors We Adore
Review by Maureen Ryan Griffin, author of How Do I Say Goodbye? and Praying You Goodbye
For a multitude of reasons, The Storyteller’s Apprentice is just the sort of book I give as a gift to all the young girls I know—a story I would have loved as a child, filled with rich sensory details, riveting moments of distress, and revelatory discoveries. Best of all, Arella is a main character whose faults and flaws are easy to fully identify with and whose journey to greater compassion and wisdom is deeply satisfying.
The Storyteller's Apprentice delivers the perfect blend of “Anticipation & Anxiety,” “Loss & Lessons,” “Travel & Trouble” (just three of the delightfully alliterative chapter titles), as well as magic & realism. The poet in me reveled in the metaphors each “story within the story” held and the skillful use of repetition; the artist in me delighted in the beautifully rendered images and the lovely design of the book as a whole. To paraphrase author Dana Kumerow’s dedication, “every girl who listens and wishes and dreams” is in for a treat!
The Storyteller’s Apprentice
An Illuminating Depiction of One Heroine’s Journey of Becoming Herself
Review by Karon Luddy, author of Spelldown and Bewilderment of Boys
“It is only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own natures” - C.G. Jung
I have been at wit’s end the past few days conjuring up a review of The Storyteller’s Apprentice. Not because I don’t like it. Quite the contrary, I am fascinated by how author Dana Kumerow crafted this powerful coming of age fairy tale after studying the evocative folk art of Brittany Tate and Jen Walls. No doubt, the book is visually a knockout with its enchanting design and evocative folk art. And I’d like to thank Jen Walls for inviting me to read this book and to write this review.
Kumerow creates vivid scenes, crisp dialogue, and brilliant characterizations that ground this novel in a recognizable fairy tale setting in the village of Loden. She also makes the story believable from the psychological point of view of twelve-year-old protagonist Arella—orphaned at eight when her papa died—and whose difficult mother makes hideous brown dresses for Arella–yet lavishes her twin sister Lara with exquisite dresses. To escape this emotional and spiritual wasteland, Arella likes to spend time in the cemetery taking care of her father’s grave. And she begins to hear voices—whisperings at first from her papa. Then others, dearly departed, begin to whisper stories of their memories, desires, and regrets.
Everything changes when Samira the ancient crone storyteller arrives at the Midsummer Initiation Ceremony. Samira knows her days are numbered. Cosmic forces help her identify Arella as the Apprentice. Samira makes the announcement and chaos ensues. Arielle desperately tries to decline the apprenticeship so that her sister Lara can have it, but fails to do so. The next morning, Arella is forced to leave everything and everyone she has ever known. Before the storytelling caravan departs, Samira points to herself and pronounces her role as MENTOR and points at Arella and pronounces her role as APPRENTICE—a clear cut job description that must be followed or else!
And off they go. Sitting alongside Samira in the wagon, Arella’s dented sense of self makes her long to find her own kind, her own wild tribe. And luckily, Kumerow takes the reader along on an adventure of vast growth and transformation that delves deeply into Arella’s psyche to reclaim her birthright as a genius in listening to stories and eventually into telling stories herself. And perhaps against all odds, Arella becomes herself.
Review by Hyong Yi, author of 100 Love Notes and The #100 Love Notes Project
The Storyteller's Apprentice is a story about stories and the people who tell them. It's also a story about a girl growing up into a a capable independent confident young woman. And finally, it's a compilation of smaller stories all contributing to this wonderful tale of Arella who becomes more than she ever imagined. And this story is beautifully illustrated and are stories themselves. As the father of a 13 year old girl, this is a story I want my daughter to read so that she can learn that everything has a story, including her.