At the Edge: A Book of Risky Stories


255 pages
ISBN 0-921556-74-8
DDC C813'.0108054





Edited by Dan Yashinsky
Illustrations by Dale McNevin

Susannah D. Ketchum is a teacher-librarian at the Bishop Strachan School
in Toronto. She also serves on the Southern Ontario Library Services


This collection of over 30 tales from the oral tradition is a delight
from start to finish. The stories, loosely expressing the theme of
living dangerously, run the gamut from humor to suspense to drama.
Favorite family incidents, such as the adoption of an orphaned porcupine
and “Father Runs from Perth to Lanark,” share the limelight with
trickster tales and folk stories, old, new, and reinvented. The
importance of the spoken word is underscored by one storyteller whose
father is “puzzled and mad” to learn that she has transcribed one of
his stories: “‘How will it grow if you write it down?’”

The storytellers come from many traditions, including Australian,
Caribbean, Egyptian, First Nations, Gaelic, Jewish, and Norwegian. The
final section, “About the Tellers and Their Tales,” is almost as
rewarding as the tales themselves. “For me, the landscape of ‘Cap
o’ Rushes’ is the landscape of my beginnings,” or “Every now and
again I take it, like a jewel from my secret treasure box, and polish it
up to show anyone brave enough to look.”

Two minor criticisms, First, poor copy editing has permitted an
irritating number of typographical errors. Second, Dan Yashinsky’s
fine editorial comments have all been crammed into one introduction; his
remarks would have been much more effective had they been divided and
used to introduce individual stories or sections. The section page
illustrations, however, are delightful.

Librarians, teachers of all grades, and parents will all find wonderful
read-aloud material in this collection. Families may be inspired to
start telling their own stories, and theatre arts students will find At
the Edge a wonderful resource for recitations and dramatizations. Highly


“At the Edge: A Book of Risky Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,