Duppy Talk: West Indian Tales of Mystery and Magic

Overview

A unique collection of authentic West Indian ghost stories. The tales feature a shadow-catching obeah man, a Caribbean bush doctor, a magician, a mermaid, and the folklorist Gerald Hausman, who seeks the strange and bizarre in the forests of Jamaica where he is working as a school teacher. The author presents duppies or ghosts in a way that is mysterious, suspenseful, as well as humorous and magical. Whether you're looking for history or just island atmosphere, this book ...
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Overview

A unique collection of authentic West Indian ghost stories. The tales feature a shadow-catching obeah man, a Caribbean bush doctor, a magician, a mermaid, and the folklorist Gerald Hausman, who seeks the strange and bizarre in the forests of Jamaica where he is working as a school teacher. The author presents duppies or ghosts in a way that is mysterious, suspenseful, as well as humorous and magical. Whether you're looking for history or just island atmosphere, this book delivers spine-tingling and amusing folklore.

Includes six ghost stories from Jamaica which are based on the country's legends and have their roots in African folklore; each story is accompanied by a section about the teller of the tale.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-Duppy (ghost) tales are a part of the African tradition, brought to the West Indies by tribal storytellers who came on slave ships. Hausman retells six tales that he learned in Jamaica, crediting his sources in a note after each one. Unlike those malicious ghosts of Western European and North American folklore, these spirits reward kindness and good character with gifts both tangible and spiritual (although they are not above an occasional good-humored trick or two). In one story, a bus driver delivers two little girls wearing nightgowns to a mountaintop house that he later learns has been gone for many years. His reward: the temperamental starter on his bus is fixed forever! In another selection, a man yearning for good luck reaps a bountiful reward after promising a dying cousin that he will care for his daughter. The language has a Jamaican ring, the notes are informative, and an 11-page glossary explains unfamiliar terms. This is one of the very few collections of West Indian folklore available for children, as Philip Sherlock's The Iguana's Tale (1969) and Ears and Tails and Common Sense (1974, both Crowell), are both out of print. A worthy addition.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Janice Del Negro
Gathered from storytellers on the north coast of Jamaica, these six tales are built on legends brought from Africa to the Caribbean. Familiar motifs are shaped by local lore and history. The stories are linked by a storyteller's voice, which provides unobtrusive background and context. Although all the tales have supernatural or mystical elements, "Chick Chick" is the scariest. It's a truly skin-crawling account of a woman's physical and psychological duel with a vengeful "duppy" (a restless soul believed to haunt the living) sent by an evil obeah man. Each tale opens with a Jamaican proverb, and a final chapter ("The Proverbs of Duppy Talk") discusses each saying's origin and meaning. The volume is attractively designed, with heavy, glossy pages, a generous amount of white space, and crisp black-and white chapter illustrations. There is also a strong glossary. The stories will be easy to booktalk and should have wide appeal across age and gender lines.
Book List
"Gathered from storytellers on the north coast of Jamaica these six tales are built on legends brought from Africa to the Caibbean...the stories are linked by a storyteller's voice, which provides unobtrusive background and context...each tale opens with a Jamaican proverb and a final chapter discusses each saying's origin and meaning...the stories will be easy to book talk and should have wide appeal..."
Gordon Walls
"Duppy Talk is a great little book, full of wonderfully written spooky stories set on the island of Jamaica ... by the way, a duppy is a Jamaican ghost or spirit of the dead."
James Berry
"...with these alive duppy talk stories, I remember after hearing similar ones as children, nothing would have persuaded any of us to go to bed alone."
John Sigwald
"This Caribbean island came alive for me...Jamaica now seems like a vivid extension of the village of castle Gordon, full of life, tales, laughter, fears, and superstitions, which foster the best stories."
Library Journal
"Hausman retells six tales that he learned in Jamaica, crediting his sources in a note after each one...the language has a Jamaican ring, the notes are informative, and the 11-page glossary explains unfamiliar terms. This is one of the very few collections of West Indian folklore available for children...a worthy addition."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671890001
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/10/1994
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald Hausmman is the winner of the Aesop Accolade award given by the Children's Section of the American Folklore Society. The author of over 70 books, Mr. Hausman is an accomplished storyteller whose stories "have wide appeal across age and gender lines" according to Booklist. Two films have been made from his stories and one of them, Haunted Caribbean, includes the tales in Duppy Talk.
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