Outfoxing Fear: Folktales from Around the World


“Kathleen Ragan is a contemporary Scheherazade.”—Jack Zipes
Humans of all eras and cultures have lived with fear—whether fear of becoming jaguar prey, of being besieged by Vikings, or of nuclear holocaust. For millennia we have created folktales to help us transform this fear into action, into a solution, into hope. Kathleen Ragan, editor of the anthology Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters, scoured the globe and collected these sixty-three tales that respond to fear in its wide variety of ...

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“Kathleen Ragan is a contemporary Scheherazade.”—Jack Zipes
Humans of all eras and cultures have lived with fear—whether fear of becoming jaguar prey, of being besieged by Vikings, or of nuclear holocaust. For millennia we have created folktales to help us transform this fear into action, into a solution, into hope. Kathleen Ragan, editor of the anthology Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters, scoured the globe and collected these sixty-three tales that respond to fear in its wide variety of incarnations. From the old Japanese woman who tricks the tengu monster to the bluebird who uses the Chinook Wind to teach her mother compassion, Outfoxing Fear is a "satisfyingly pointed and ingenious" (Kirkus Reviews) collection of positive, even utopian, folktales arranged thematically around topics such as the nature of fear and courage and the importance of laughter.

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Editorial Reviews

Ruth B. Bottigheimer
“A first-rate thematic anthology, Outfoxing Fear communicates a healing humor, excellent for home reading and classroom study.”
Curled Up with a Good Book
Kirkus Reviews
Ragan's second anthology of folktales (ed., Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters, 1998) contains 64 brief narratives that, judging by the personal essays introducing each section, she hopes will exemplify ingenuity and courage. Unfortunately, her uneven selection makes folktales seem all too often violent, unclear or inconclusive. This is not a terrible book, but less than it could have been, given the fleeting glimpses we have of its editor's best nature. A handful of these tales are satisfyingly pointed and ingenious. In "The Ghost of Farnell," a young woman learns she has been safely escorted across a dark moorland by the very specter she feared. The clever heroine of "The Lady and the Unjust Judge" shrewdly reads human nature to help a poor man win justice. Many, however, are just plain lame, or seem totally unrelated to the topics Ragan establishes. The brief, drab "Canadian-Icelandic" story, "Girl Learns to Write by Practicing on Frozen Pond," which appears under the chapter heading "Desperate Courage," is simply an account of a child's tracing her father's name in the snow covering a frozen pond. There is no particular element of courage or even surprise, since the title gives the game away. Although this is billed as a volume for all ages, parents of young children will find "Still Another Spook" crudely violent, to little purpose: Within just two pages, the Spook in question is burnt, scalded, shot, chopped into pieces with a machete and impaled on a sharpened stake that "went up his ass and came out his mouth." And although there are footnotes to explain foreign terms deemed untranslatable, including many that have passed into common English, such as "keening" and"vizier," many odd words go unexplained. When a lass sleeps on the "hurdle" of a house, it's hard to guess where she is, and "Long ago the Lincolnshire Cars were full of bogs" holds a meaning of "cars" mysterious to most. A disappointing collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393329322
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/5/2006
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,201,524
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Ragan is the author of Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters and Outfoxing Fear. She has lived in or traveled to fifty countries and currently lives in Australia.

Jack Zipes (Ph.D. Columbia University) is a Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. In addition to his scholarly work on children’s literature, he is an award-winning storyteller in public schools and has worked with various children’s theaters. His major publications include Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children’s Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter (2000), Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry (1997), Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale (1994), The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World (1988), and Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion: The Classical Genre for Children and the Process of Civilization (1983).

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Table of Contents

Introduction : recalling Scheherazade
Building stories 3
"What are you the most scared of?" (Japan) 6
The robbers and the old woman (Scotland) 8
Cauth Morrisy looking for service (Ireland) 11
Death and the old woman (Hungary) 16
The story of the caterpillar and the wild animals (Masai people, Kenya and Tanzania) 19
Serious laughter 21
Magic to overcome anxiety : turtledove cannot change its nature : what turtledove says (Dahomean people, Benin) 23
How Thomas Connolly met the banshee (Ireland) 25
The frightened fox (Persia) 29
The nature of fear 30
There is nothing anywhere (that we fear) (Akan-Ashanti people, Ghana) 32
The boy who went in search of fear (Germany) 34
The fearless captain (Korea) 44
Desperate courage 46
Girl learns to write by practising on frozen pond (Icelandic-Canadian) 49
The cakes of oatmeal and blood (Ireland) 50
The neckbone on the knife (Iceland) 55
The death "bree" (Scotland) 56
Quotidian courage 59
The snail (African-American) 62
Different times have different "Adans" (Sudan) 63
The story of the king and the four girls (Punjab, India) 65
The story of the demon who ate people, and the child (Masai people, Kenya and Tanzania) 72
De white man's prayer (African-American) 75
When common sense makes no sense 76
The ghost of Farnell (Scotland) 78
The fox and her children and Nekhailo the loafer (Ukraine) 80
The lion who drowned in a well (Ukraine) 82
The tiger, the Brahman, and the jackal (Punjab, India) 86
Friend or foe? 89
The bee and the Asya (Hopi people, North America) 92
The broken friendship (Santal Parganas, India) 94
The lady and the unjust judge (Turkey) 97
Today me, tomorrow thee (Kikuyu people, Kenya) 100
Ole sis goose (African-American) 104
Lost 105
The tale of the Emir's sword (Afghanistan) 107
The revolution (Mayan people, Central America) 112
The stone coat woman (Iroquois people, North America) 116
A swirl of probabilities 124
The devil's little joke (Israel) 126
Solomon and the vulture (Turkey) 127
The landlord and his son (Israel) 130
Old man and old woman (Blackfeet people, North America) 132
The moon goddess (Chinese-Vietnamese-Australian) 134
Xueda and Yinlin (Hui people, China) 136
The world we travel toward 141
Im 'Awwad and the Ghouleh (Palestinian Arab people) 143
An evil being appears at an appointment instead of the right person (Papua New Guinea) 145
The outwitted ghost of the forest (Arawak people, Northwest Amazon Basin) 148
Using speculation machines 150
Still another spook (Mayan people, Central America) 153
The oyster and the shark (Munkan people, Australia) 156
Mr. Fox (England) 158
Mereaira and Kape Tautini (Maori people, New Zealand) 162
On death's payroll 164
The poles of the house (Tinguian people, Philippines) 166
The dead moon (England) 168
Legend of sway-uock (Snohomish people, North America) 172
How the young maidens saved Guam Island (Chamorro people, Guam) 176
A shared destiny 179
The meatballs' leader (Afghanistan) 181
The maiden who lived with the wolves (Sioux people, North America) 182
The tale of Nung-kua-ma (China) 184
Consider the source 188
Baling with a sieve (Kwangtung, China) 190
The old woman and the lame devil (Chumash people, North America) 193
The woman with red leggings (Arikara people, North America) 195
The old lady of littledean (Scotland) 197
The milk and butter stones (Scotland) 199
The inexhaustible meal-chest (Ireland) 203
Unhistoric acts 208
The long haired girl (China) 210
The good lie (Persia) 217
Ayak and her lost bridegroom (Dinka people, Sudan) 219
Bluejay brings the Chinook wind (Flathead-Kalispel people, North America) 223
The lions of Vancouver (Salish people, North America) 226
Sunrise never failed us yet 228
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