Review: “The White Stag” by Kate Seredy

For the love of books

Kate Seredy was one of those prolific modern authors who had a significant impact on children’s literature.  She not only opened the closed doors of her heritage to a wide audience but also introduced a forgotten, ignored culture in her stories by way of Hungarian legends, folktales, and customs.  The White Stag is one of her most renown storybooks, a beautiful collection of mystical black-and-white illustrations and handcrafted fantasy.

In The White Stag, the author relates an untold side of European history by narrating the Huns’ and Magyars’ account of their origins and their passage into Europe.  Historical figures like Attila the Hun are born amid an intricate, realistic saga of hardship and loss, all set against the Hungarians’ discovery of Europe as their prophesied homeland.  The mysterious title creature, the white stag, is a common symbol or mirage of the unattainable in many fairy tales and legends.

However, the Huns and the Magyars want to find a refuge and a home for themselves, a goal that becomes visualized in the elusive white stag and its unsaid advice.  It simultaneously represents the tribes’ failures and achievements, a source of hope and motivation for not surrendering to tragedy or despair.  Serious, calm, and a splendid gallery of the author’s artistry, The White Stag is a poignant combination of myths, history, and legends.

Original review: Part 1: Kate Seredy was a storyteller of unknown legends, Examiner.com

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