Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales and True Tales

Overview

In the tradition of Hamilton's The People Could Fly and In the Beginning, a dramatic new collection of 25 compelling tales from the female African American storytelling tradition. Each story focuses on the role of women -- both real and fantastic -- and their particular strengths, joys and sorrows.
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Overview

In the tradition of Hamilton's The People Could Fly and In the Beginning, a dramatic new collection of 25 compelling tales from the female African American storytelling tradition. Each story focuses on the role of women -- both real and fantastic -- and their particular strengths, joys and sorrows.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

" The storytelling is dramatic and direct in this collection of 19 tales... The Dillon's glowingly detailed acrylic illustrations extend the horror, comedy, rhythm, and spirit of the tales." Booklist - starred review

"...these are tales to be read over and over again." - PW - starred review

".. It's hard to envision the shelf- children's or adult - on which this volume doesn't belong." - Kirkus pointer review

"Virginia Hamilton and the Dillons have produced yet another superb offering.. The book is a gallery of beautiful women of color. Entrancing and important, this notable colloaboration desrves a wide success." - SLJ- starred review

"

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The distinguished creators of The People Could Fly and Many Thousand Gone return for this striking collection of 17 tales, each featuring an African American woman or girl as the main character.

True stories, ghost stories, folk legends, classic fairy tales, tall tales and more indicate the breadth of African American cultural traditions. Retold from a variety of sources, the stories flow smoothly in Hamilton's expertly measured prose. The full-color illustrations, one per story, are lush and detailed, like the Dillons' work in Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch. In a handsome oversize format, the book itself reflects unusually high production values. Text and art are laid against a buff background in a sophisticated but uncrowded page design, and the volume is bound with an unusually heavy casing. It will need that sturdiness, for these are tales to be read over and over again. Ages 6-up. (Nov.)

Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This is a stunning collection made even more spectacular with the poignant illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. Hamilton takes children through animal and supernatural tales, biography and legend with a range of telling that is as diverse and powerful as the stories told.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A compelling account of African American women in twenty stories divided into five sections, many of which come from oral traditions and are quite varied. However, the unifying theme, as the title suggests, is the focus on women. These women are clever, funny, poignant, brave, and full of life. There is something for everyone in this collection. The Dillions' superb acrylic paintings, including numerous full pages, smaller inserts, and a truly beautiful cover, combine to provide a feast for the eyes that reflects a real harmony between author and illustrators. Winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and a Coretta Scott King Award.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up--Nineteen marvelous selections retold by a master storyteller. Whether magical, eerie, comic, or touching, the tales are aptly served by the gorgeous, glowing acrylic paintings. Nov. 1995
School Library Journal
Outstanding interpreters of, and contributors to, black culture for children, Virginia Hamilton and the Dillons have produced yet another superb offering, of value to all ages and segments of our society.

Her Stories contains 20 brief pieces, equally (if sometimes rather abitrarily) distributed in 5 sections: animal tales, fairy tales, supernatural stories, "folkways and legends,'' and true tales (including Hamilton's own account of this book's genesis). Vernacular rather than dialectal, the fluid writing recalls the oral sources of these tales (there is a source bibliography, and comments on provenance follow each tale). As the title implies, the stories all feature females, but there is nothing predictable about the roles they play. Funny, touching, scary, magical, and inspiring by turns, the characters are as varied as the narratives-and as the tastes of readers. The Dillons' electric-hued acrylic paintings (16 full-page, several vignettes, and an enticing jacket) catch the tales' multiple moods.

The book is a gallery of beautiful women of color. Entrancing and important, this notable collaboration deserves a wide success.
-- Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI

Hazel Rochman
The storytelling is dramatic and direct in this collection of 19 tales about African American females, beautifully retold by Hamilton in a wide variety of simple, colloquial voices and styles.
"There was this glory-looking young girl in the times when animals talked. She was Lena, beauty."

Animal tales, "pourquoi" tales, tales of the supernatural, legends, tall tales, and factual accounts are gathered in a large-size volume designed for group sharing, with big, clear type and wide margins. The stories also leave lots of space; the endings leave you wondering.

The Dillons' glowingly detailed acrylic illustrations extend the horror, comedy, rhythm, and spirit of the tales, ranging from the glamour of the mermaid to the creepy terror of the Cat Woman to the legendary power of Annie Christmas, who was "coal black and tree tall."

As in Hamilton's exquisite collection The People Could Fly (1985), the notes on the stories -- where they came from, how they traveled and changed, what they mean -- are as fascinating as the tales themselves. Reading about women who labored "from dayclean to daylean" and who made up stories in the great, lonesome night will inspire many young people to read more about folklore and to collect stories from family and community.

Older readers may want to read this collection with Goss' new adult collection Jump Up and Say!.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590473705
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 305,027
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 880L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.62 (w) x 11.42 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton (1936-2002) changed children's literature for generations of readers, winning every major award in her field across the globe. Her awards and honors include the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, a MacArthur Fellowship, and four honorary doctorates. Virginia was married to Arnold Adoff, and they have two children and one grandchild.

Biography

A writer of prodigious gifts, Virginia Hamilton forged a new kind of juvenile fiction by twining African-American and Native American history and folklore with contemporary stories and plotlines.

With Hamilton's first novel, Zeely, the story of a young farm girl who fantasizes that a woman she knows is a Watusi queen, she set the bar high. The book won a American Library Association Notable Children's Book citation. Hamilton rose to her own challenge, and every new book she published enriched American literature to such a degree that in 1995 she was awarded the ALA's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lifetime achievement.

Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and raised in an extended family of farmers and storytellers (her own father was a musician), Hamilton's work was inspired by her childhood experiences, family mythology, and Ohio River Valley homeland. In an article about the importance of libraries in children's lives, she credits her mother and the "story lady" at her childhood public library with opening her mind to the world of books.

Although she spent time in New York City working as a bookkeeper after college, and traveled widely in Africa and Europe, Hamilton spent most of her life in Yellow Springs, anchored by the language, geography, and culture of southern Ohio. In The House of Dies Drear, she arranged her story around the secrets of the Underground Railroad. In M. C. Higgins, the Great, winner of both a John Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, she chronicled the struggles of a family whose land, and life spirit, is threatened by strip mining. Publishers Weekly called the novel "one of those rare books which draws the reader in with the first paragraph and keeps him or her turning the page until the end."

In her series of folk-tale collections, including The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, Hamilton salvaged and burnished folk tales from cultures across the world for her stories; stories that suffused her fiction with its extraordinary blend of worldly and otherworldly events, enchantment, and modern reality. Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.

Good To Know

Hamilton's first research trip to a library was to find out more about her family's exotic chickens, which her mother called "rainbow layers," because of the many tints of the eggs they laid.

In 1995, Hamilton became the first children's writer to win a John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur "genius" grant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 12, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Date of Death:
      February 19, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Attended Antioch College, Ohio State University, and the New School for Social Research
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2012

    This Book Was Not That Good

    I did not like this book at all. It was weird. I think it was a kid book
    but it was not my type. It was interesting but not enough. I read Lena and Big One Tiger.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 11, 2012

    My review of this book is very good *SPOILER ALERT!*

    I loved this book. My favorite part is when the mermaid came and took the little girl under the water and fed her, but the sad part is when the mermaid got shot by the little girl's dad and she died.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    Great 'Girl' Tales

    This book is great since it has tales of girls who have all the great qualities that every boy admires in a girl. It is also a collection of tales that has girls expressing every one of their emotions and strengths, and being a boy, I love it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2003

    PAGE TURNER

    i read this book in one day ANYONE who likes to read should read this book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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