The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales

by Virginia Hamilton
     
 

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"The well-known author retells 24 black American folk tales in sure storytelling voice: animal tales, supernatural tales, fanciful and cautionary tales, and slave tales of freedom. All are beautifully readable. With the added attraction of 40 wonderfully expressive paintings by the Dillons, this collection should be snapped up."—(starred) School Library

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Overview

"The well-known author retells 24 black American folk tales in sure storytelling voice: animal tales, supernatural tales, fanciful and cautionary tales, and slave tales of freedom. All are beautifully readable. With the added attraction of 40 wonderfully expressive paintings by the Dillons, this collection should be snapped up."—(starred) School Library Journal. 

This book has been selected as a Common Core State Standards text Exemplar (Grade 6-8, Stories) in Appendix B.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This widely lauded anthology boasts stunning black-and-white artwork and stirringly told stories with such evocative titles as ``The Beautiful Girl of the Moon Tower'' and ``Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Man.'' All ages. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
This classic collection contains twenty-four tales, stories, and riddles about animals, fantasy and the supernatural handed down by African slaves before and during the Civil War period. These stories, born out of the sorrow of slaves, focus on freedom and triumph and bring hope to all who read them. Bruh Rabbit and the Two Johns are just some of the fascinating characters featured in this enchanting anthology. Dillon's mystical and inspiring black-and-white illustrations perfectly complement Hamilton's well-written prose.
Children's Literature - Ken and Sylvia Marantz
Hamilton's retelling of this African American folktale appeared originally in her Coretta Scott King Award-winning collection of the same title. It stands alone in this picture book edition newly-illustrated by the Dillons. Some slaves are cruelly treated by their overseer. They have forgotten the magic that enabled them to fly in Africa. An old man reminds them. Whispering the magic words to them, he helps them fly triumphantly to freedom. The illustrations that tell the visual tale, one per page, are treated as pocket dramas. Set off by the thick gold bands that frame each scene, they use pigments that seem to glow. Figures are sculptural, faces animated by the emotions of the story, colors chosen to enhance these emotions. The flying figures are depicted with a dance-like sense of grace. The magic is instilled in the pictures as well as the words. Notes from the editor and the author provide additional information. The accompanying CD has James Earl Jones and Virginia Hamilton reading the text. Don't overlook the book's endpapers. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 The well-known author here retells 24 black American folk tales in sure storytelling voice. In four groupings she presents seven animal tales (including a tar-baby variant); six fanciful ones (including ``Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Man'' and a tale of which Harper's Gunniwulf Dutton, 1967 is a variant); five supernatural tales (including variants of the Tailypo, John and the Deviland a wild cautionary tale, ``Little Eight John''); and finally, six slave tales of freedom, closing with the moving title story. Depending on the sources, some of the tales use a modified dialect for flavor; one told with quite a few words of Gullah dialect has a glossary. All are beautifully readable. The book has a bibliography, and comments follow each tale, including one personal note of a family account involving one of her grandfathers. Two other collections of black folk tales, Courlander's Terrapin's Pot of Sense (Holt, 1957; o.p.) and Faulkner's The Days When the Animals Talked (Follett, 1977; o.p.) are both out of print. With the added attraction of 40 bordered full- and half-page illustrations by the Dillonswonderfully expressive paintings reproduced in black and whitethis collection should be snapped up. Ruth M. McConnell, San Antonio Public Library
Leo and Diane Dillon illustrate this beautiful collection of American black folktales, which comes with a compact disc narrated by James Earl Jones and Hamilton. Parents will want to use The People Could Fly as a readaloud themselves: it provides over twenty folktales for all ages and this reprint with its new cd will appeal to new audiences.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679843368
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/28/1993
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
207,802
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.47(d)
Lexile:
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton, storyteller, lecturer, and biographer, was born and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, which is said to be a station on the Underground Railroad.  Her grandfather settled in the village after escaping slavery in Virginia. She was educated at Antioch College and Ohio State University and did further study in literature and the novel at the New School for Social Research. Virginia was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M.C. Higgins the Great.  Since then, she has won three Newbery Honors and three Coretta Scott King Awards.  In 1992, Virginia was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, which is presented every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People, in recognition of her entire body of work. Virginia writes first for the pleasure of using words and language to evoke characters and their world, and in historical accounts such as Anthony Burns, the lives of real people.  Secondly, Hamilton writes to entertain, to inspire in people the desire to read on and on good books made especially for them.

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Brief Biography

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

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