The Amazing Fortune Telling Book written by Diane Wilkes

Written by Karin Lee and illustrated by Kipling West

You may remember Kipling West's art from the clever, whimsical Tarot for Cats and the Halloween Tarot. Lee wrote the book that accompanied both decks. I loved both decks, so I sought this out. Warning: some stores stock this in the young adult section or with their tarot cards. Some store clerks don't have any idea where it is to be found. I had to be quite aggressive in my search for it.

But, it is worth the effort. Included in the book are "22 Fortune-Telling Cards" that you punch out of a not-very-hardy cardboard. They are very tarot-based, but made child-friendly by transforming the Devil to the Chameleon, the Hanged Man to the Bat (who hangs upside down on a tree), and Death to the Phoenix. The Tower has flying squirrels who don't seem unduly fazed by their flight ("The Flying Squirrels have left the building."). The book even includes a box for the cards, as well as a pocket in the backflap to hold them. Since the set is intended for children, all aids in keeping the cards together are no doubt appreciated by parents.

The artwork is clever and whimsical, much like the art you have seen in Tarot for Cats and the Halloween Tarot. The colors have a richness that adds depth to the images. Each card has its own animal--the Fool is an otter with a perfectly fool-ish smile, the Magician a scholarly dragon peering over his spectacles at his magic table, the High Priestess is an elegant swan...I could go on.

Oh, what the Hell, I will. The Empress is a majestic tiger and her mate, the Emperor, is an equally royal lion. The Hierophant is an elephant whose demeanor shows he wouldn't easily be ruffled by a mouse, the Lovers are a pair of doves that you can tell are cooing to one another, if silently, while another dove peers out the window towards a dark, flowered glade. The Chariot is a plumed and proud Golden Eagle...

I'll stop now. No, I have to tell you about the Star--a turquoise winged horse flying over a full moon and water, the backdrop a pitch-black starred sky. I thought it beautiful enough to adorn my altar.

The backs are in black and white, showing the various animals in a pleasant design. The cards are not very sturdy, so I would not recommend this deck for a very young child, but I am already thinking about the children in my life old enough for this clever set. Aunt Diane loves to give good gifts!

Included are two spreads, a three card past, present, and future format and a modified Celtic Cross. The directions are not tarted up with a lot of stress on ritual, yet provide a clear-cut list of things-to-do and a nice sample reading.

I guess I should mention that the book also includes chapters on astrology, Chinese astrology, palm reading, and other forms of fortune telling. I didn't know that Scarpomancy was a modern method of telling fortunes by analyzing people by studying their old shoes--and I won't natter on about everything my old shoes indicate about me; suffice it to say that I am lopsided, casual and in a rut, since I always buy the same kind of shoes. The little volume even includes a bibliography, which isn't particularly impressive, but the easy-to-understand style of the book's text is. The writing is simple, but not simplistic, and isn't patronizing, which is wondrous in a children's book of this nature.

An example:

The World (Dolphin)

Wisdom, nature, cycles

This card tells you to focus more on nature's cycles and our constantly changing world. The dolphin, with its intelligence, playfulness, and beauty, is in the center of the World card, leaping from ocean to sky.

Philosophers in some ancient civilizations believed that everything in nature was made out of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Here, earth is the mole, water is the fish, air is the seabird, and fire is the salamander.

Take the time to learn what's happening around you, and be ready for change.

I recommend this book set enthusiastically for anyone with a child over the age of 7 or 8, and anyone who appreciated Tarot for Cats or the Halloween Tarot. I think it's a bargain at $11.95, and plan to order at least three more...since I don't want to share my copy.

Image Copyright 1997, Kipling West

Review and Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes