Rhymes with Australia

Ian Serraillier (1912-1994)
We are presently enjoying  a few titles by  Ian Serraillier (1912-1994).  A schoolmaster and  poet from London, Serraillier is  well known for his retellings of Greek legends, folk tales, fairy tales, and Shakespeare.  His writing is crisp, clear, and sophisticated.  I like how he explains the pronunciation of his name:

"My name, Serraillier, is pronounced:  SER (as in serpent), and if you rhyme the rest with Australia you won't go far wrong."

I have a few (ahem) different Shakespeare retellings on my bookshelf.  I used Serraillier's book The Enchanted Island - Stories from Shakespeare to introduce each act as we moved through Shakespeare's original Henry V.  This book  is very different from Lamb's or Nesbit's retellings, but I found it a helpful and refreshing change of pace. Serraillier has covered eleven of Shakespeare's plays in this book.  Peter Farmer's illustrations are outstanding, too!

illustration from "Death of a Dictator" by Farmer
One of our read-alouds right now is The Silver Sword (American title - Escape from Warsaw), also by Serraillier.  It features Polish children caught up in the Second World War and their trek across Europe in search of their parents.  We are reading one nice-sized chapter per day.  I don't recommend reading this tale unless you want your children to start asking for "one more chapter, pull-eeze??"  My 10 yr. old dd, never much for any war story, has now been begging for more WWII stories to read on her own. Oh, let me see what else I can find around here, dear...

From joy to joy,


  1. I have never SEEN what Ian looks like. The last book is one of our most favorites and I've tried to collect a copy for each of my children. Still need a few more copies!

  2. And I have NEVER even heard of this author. Will have to check him out. Thanks for the suggestions. Btw, my son was in the same Sir Gawain & the Green Knight literary analysis BW class as your daughter. It was fun to see a familiar name! ;D


  3. I loved The Silver Sword too as a younger person! I look forward to reading it again with our son. I have a version of Beowulf by Ian S. saved on my wishlist that I thought would be good for my son when he is a bit older. Thanks for highlighting this great author.

  4. I so enjoy being introduced to new (to me) authors. I look forward to inviting him into our home ; ) Thanks Nancy!

  5. I was not familiar with this author, but I love Greek myth and Shakespeare, so I will look into his books. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation! We'll be(gin) tackling Shakespeare soon, so this will make a good addition to the other re-tellings. Thanks for linking up!

  7. Why not consider uploading the sound recording of your students' reading aloud? It is useful for them to review and reflect on their progress. And it is a valuable resource for other language teachers and learners.

    An EFL teacher from Hong Kong