Whimsical Tarot: A Deck for Children and the Young at Heart (companion book to the Whimsical Tarot Deck) by Dorothy Morrison
Review by Robert Moyer

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck/Book set, click here.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

If you'd like to buy only the companion book to the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

A few months ago I reviewed the Whimsical Tarot deck by Mary Hanson-Roberts and Dorothy Morrison. Reflecting back on that now it is interesting to note how reviews as well as tarot decks can be perceived. Like all art the Tarot is subject to interpretation. Let us interpret then. A review of such an item is just that, a review. One personís interpretation and perception of that piece of art or work. Some folk may feel that I am underestimating or even insulting the mode of tarot by referring to it as Art. Little do they understand the concept of Art, then. Perhaps that is another topic.

Dorothy Morrison has written a companion book and now, because of the ingenious creative marketing talents of U.S.Games, the set of both the cards and complete companion book can be purchased. Thank you very much. I am relieved to hear the artistsí or co-creatorsí inspiration for a piece of work. In tarot and with a tarot deck, it is intrinsic to the background of the cards. Understanding the mental processes that are incurred in creating these spiritually charged images is a great help in understanding the cards. I personally dislike the little booklets, or as I call them in my classes, "crutches". But, if you have to start somewhere, it is good to have something with more depth. Besides, at my age it is a bother to have to search for a magnifying glass to see the print in those wee little booklets.

The companion book made me appreciate the originality of the artwork involved in the cards as I looked at each card while reading the book. Mary Hanson-Roberts managed to capture the essence of each tale as well as each cardís purpose without adhering to established imagery by other artists. She has created a piece of art that is uniquely hers and also uniquely stirs our own imaginations to create the stories behind the tales.

The companion book is comprised of two sections. Part One deals with the basics for handling cards, how toís and what to do. A great help to the beginning interpreter. The information is pretty standard; in fact, I found myself treating it like a lesson plan. Thank you, Ms. Morrison. Her six step method is right on target and definitely encourages interaction and that is exciting for the student as well as the teacher.

Sometimes we have a tendency to be very blissful in our attitudes regarding these events of interaction. The secret here is capturing the imagination. Once you capture the imagination, you can set the mind free. The tarot does that, at least for today. We have to keep in mind the fact that tarot has lasted as long as many of these "tales" have. Yes. Yes. I hear you historians. I feel the dates of tarotís birth has been arbitrated so often that, quite frankly, it no longer matters. The fact that it exists and still stirs the imagination is fascinating in and of itself.

The chapter "Getting To Know the Deck" is delightful in the fact that it encourages talking to the cards. Great way to get around talking to your self.

Now when they ask you, "Who were you just talking to?" You can answer, "My tarot cards." I wonder if that still constitutes insanity? Oh well. Itís to late for me anyway.

Part Two is a verbal sketch of the each card and itís imagery, what the card is based on and what the card should mean. It is apparent that the archetype of this tarot was the Rider-Waite Deck and that suits me fine. My personal feeling is that the Rider-Waite is a great springboard for other interpretive art styles and no one tarot should be looked upon as the "only" deck. That concept is like believing "that my way to Grandmaís house is the only way there is." Yes, well, the wolf proved Red wrong. Didnít he?

All in all, the companion book is precisely concise and it certainly does what it is suppose to do, to encourage. This is probably the most important part of the deck and the book, to encourage. I encourage the young and "more mature" alike to sit down and interact with these cards. If you are not so involved with tarot you may certainly enjoy the cards for the stories they illustrate. Perhaps you will pick up a book again. Itís never too late. Believe it or not, there are some of us out there that never make it past the daily newspaper. There is nothing wrong with an adult picking up a book written for "young people". This fifty year old just devoured Harry Potter and canít wait till Rowlingís fifth book is out.

This mode of encouragement goes beyond the reader/ buyer, it goes to you;

Dorothy Morrison and you: Mary Hanson-Roberts. I encourage you to continue.

I donít think this is the end of your mission. Maybe I am wrong. You may feel differently since you were so involved with the task. Pick it up again and refine it.

If you do, I promise I will be equally interested in what you produce as I am in J.K. Rowling.

In reading the companion book, I found myself with some very interesting thoughts that may be included in the process of refining this venue of tarot to illustrate childrenís stories and vice-versa.

I am fully aware of the time constraints and pressures that are involved in printing any piece of work. Whether it is a tarot deck or an article, deadlines and cost in printing, size and layout..... all of these issues are at play in creating something that will be published. As I read the companion book, I sensed this was more of a reality. The author and artist must be relieved to have completed as much as they did. And that was no small task. Truly.

Here are some ideas you may consider if you continue this venue for tarot:

* Use of the deck in close association with the stories and fables that are illustrated: Possibly a retelling of the stories... to give the completion of the card.

If the lesson in the card can be taught and illustrated with words through the retelling of the tale possibly it would have more impact on the learner or querent. The essence of the story can be adhered to more directly.

* Possibly a new or larger "story book with each card illustrating the beginning of each chapter in color. Although being able to match the card with the story would be a good exercise for reader/ teacher/ parent and querent/ student/ young person and adult.

* Possibly choosing more culturally and ethnically diverse young persons tales encompassing more variance instead of repeating images in a number of the cards; as was done with the tale of Hansel and Gretel. Stories such as the Little Mermaid and the Emperorís Nightingale are not included in this deck. And I grew up with these, as well as the other tales that were included. I missed those not represented.

* The next step would be to differentiate between a fairy tale, a fable and a nursery rhyme. Although they seem to get lumped together, here is an occasion where they could be delineated. I might suggest that the Pip cards could illustrate the nursery rhyme, the Suit cards could illustrate a fable and the Major Arcana the fairy tale. Simply put the Nursery Rhyme is a story told in meter, the Fable has a morale to it or a lesson and the Fairy Tale is usually one of great imagination and seems to be relatively impossible to envision, something quite fantastical.

These suggestions would probably turn the Whimsical Deck into an even more marvelous learning tool and would recapture and reinvent the childrenís story. Worth a thought....... at least.

In the meantime, pick up the Whimsical Tarot and enjoy it for what it is: a deck that has great potential, great learning and great entertainment.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck/Book set, click here.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

If you'd like to buy only the companion book to the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

Review © 2002 Robert Moyer, CTM
Page © 2002 Diane Wilkes