Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coll and His White Pig by Lloyd Alexander (1965)

I know I've read this before, but this re-read was disappointing, and a little bit sappy,  to me.  Coll seen through Taran's eyes is a warm, grandfatherly figure, gentle, wise, kind... but the Coll of this picture book seems really flat to me.  I usually like Evaline Ness too, but I didn't care for these illustrations as much as others I've seen.  Interestingly, Coll and His White Pig was written and illustrated in 1965 - after The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron but before the rest of the series.  Both of these mention Coll's adventures in Arawn; both Hen-Wen and Coll are based on characters in the folklore of Wales, found in the Welsh triads; Coll is one of three powerful swineherds of the island of Britain.  That bit of information alone is quite frankly as interesting as the whole picture book.

Coll and His White PigColl and His White Pig by Lloyd Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

None of the magic of The Black Cauldron or The Castle of Llyr; Coll and Hen-Wen are quite flat, and the story is sappy rather than exciting and dramatic.  I usually like the illustration of Evaline Ness too (although they are very old fashioned) but in this case they were equally uninteresting.  Coll is based on a character from Welsh folklore who was known as one of the three powerful swineherds of the island of Britain; that fact is as interesting as the whole book.  Very disappointing.

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