The Magic Ring
Region: Baltic Countries, Latvia
Author: Modern adaptation and rendition in English by Gini Graham Scott
Original Language: English, Latvian
Translator: Translated by the author
Descriptors: animals; farms; kings; magic; poor families; queens;
Age: 7-10 years old
“The Magic Ring" is a modern-day adaptation of a traditional folktale from Latvia about a young boy named Vadim who is given a magic ring. Vadim is poor and lives on a small farm with his father. One morning, his father sends him to the market to get some bread. Along the way, Vadim comes across someone who is beating a dog in the street and gives them money to leave the dog alone. He lies to his father and says that he didn’t have enough money to buy any bread. His father sends him back to the market several days in a row, but Vadim keeps saving animals from their abusers by using what little money they have and going hungry for dinner as a result. After he has already saved a dog, a mouse, and a cat, he uses his final coins to save a snake. Not to abandon him doomed to starve, the snake thanks him for his kindness by giving him a magic ring that will grant him anything he wishes. At first, he uses the ring to care for his family, but when Vadim starts creating trees made of glittering gold and diamonds, the King and Queen catch on to how he makes them, so they try to swindle him out of his magic ring. Luckily, Vadim has his new animal friends to help save the day! This short story comes from the collection 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmen, where the author retells some of her favorite folktales that were told by villagers from these regions. Each story is centered around the common theme of poor peasants using their wisdom and generosity “to succeed despite obstacles against an unfair ruler.” This collection uses stock images to illustrate the stories, using a mix of real-life photography and digital illustrations. These magical tales are suitable for ages 7 to 10 years old.
More About This Book
Notes: From Gini Graham Scott’s 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmenistan. The kindle version puts censor bars through the pictures, which makes it difficult to see the entire image. The layout of the text and photos is also messed up in the kindle version, often cutting pictures in half to where the top portion of the image will appear at the bottom of a page and the bottom portion of the image will appear at the top of the following page. At times, some of the photos that are similar end up overlapping one another. Content warning: In “The Magic Ring” there are mentions of animals being beaten and a photo of a cat with a wound on its belly. The name of the main character is a modern name and likely characteristic of the modern story adaptation rather than the original tale.
Additional sources used: [The introduction of 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmenistan]
Reviewed by Leah Byrnes