CHRISTIAN STORIES. HINDU STORIES. JEWISH STORIES. ISLAMIC STORIES. BUDDHIST STORIES. SIKH STORIES. By Anita Ganeri. Evans pound;9.99 each.
The aim of this superbly crafted series is to introduce children in the junior age range to the beliefs, values and key figures of the world's principal religions. Each book has between eight and 10 stories in a text accessible to most children, beautifully and sensitively illustrated in watercolour and supported by fact boxes.
Anita Ganeri has an adept pen for storytelling which recognises the importance of the story to believers and engages the child's interest and understanding. The stories from Judaism end with a tale from Belsen, and thosefrom Christianity with Easter and its significance for Christians today. The collection from Islam starts with the birth of Muhammad and ends with the building of the first mosque at Madinah.
The short description of the Buddha's passing is tender and moving: "As the monks mourned, the trees scattered petals over his body." I particularly like "How the holy river fell from heaven about the Ganges", which is informative and well told, and the compulsive "The Milk and the Jasmine Flower" from Sikh Stories.
This series will be greatly welcomed by teachers who often demand easier access to child-friendly stories from the world's main religions. The quality is a bonus.