The author of this retold collection of Welsh fairy tales was an American of Welsh ancestry. In his introduction he pointedly gives thanks to 'those inheritances from the world of imagination, for which the Cymric Land was famous, even before the days of either Anglo-Saxon or Norman.'
Griffis clearly targeted this book young readers of Welsh lineage, to foster their interest and make them proud of the cultural legacy of their land. This explains a few narrative interventions of this type:
'Now at Bettws-y-Coed-that pretty place which has a name that sounds so funny to us Americans and suggests a girl named Betty the Co-ed at college'
It also explains why his tale introducing Saint David focuses on the patrons invention of cheese on toast as much as anything else. This is followed by 'The Great Red Dragon of Wales', which retells the myth of the young Merlin's trick and prophesy, where the waring red and white serpents he conjured up represented the Cymric and Saxon antagonists.
Many of the stories are taken direct from the ancient Mabinogian, loosely translated as The Young Folks' Treasury of Cymric Stories. They variously feature the playful fairy Puck and his fair, consort Queen Mab.
Everyone knows that the Welsh love music, a tradition highlighted wittily in 'The Golden Harp', where an atrocious singer is given an irresistible gift by a fairy.
Griffis is keen to point out just how much Welsh men love their women, yet no less than three of the stories tell of how fairy maidens agree to marry human men on the condition that their husbands do not strike them, only for the men to fail each time, albeit by accident.
Back to the theme of pride in the national heritage, Griffis boldly asserts that 'Cornwall is, in soul, a part of Wales', a point stressed in a few of the stories, which is historically true.
Also historically true - or at least as true as any other interpretation - is the tradition that suggests that King Arthur was a Welsh monarch. A couple of stories reflect that.
An engagingly written collection which aims to educate, clarify and entertain in equal measure.