Trick of the Tale: A Collection of Trickster Tales

Overview

Celebrate the slyest trickster tales from around the world in a lavish volume that gives a well-loved story tradition its rightful due.

Enter (carefully) the world of the tricksters, those wily creatures who lie their way out of trouble, cheat when they get a chance, and devise elaborate tricks to get what they want —- with delightfully unpredictable results. This truly diverse, elegantly illustrated collection follows such clever characters as Anansi, Coyote, Brer Rabbit, and ...

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Overview

Celebrate the slyest trickster tales from around the world in a lavish volume that gives a well-loved story tradition its rightful due.

Enter (carefully) the world of the tricksters, those wily creatures who lie their way out of trouble, cheat when they get a chance, and devise elaborate tricks to get what they want —- with delightfully unpredictable results. This truly diverse, elegantly illustrated collection follows such clever characters as Anansi, Coyote, Brer Rabbit, and others who play a role in a multicultural array of storytelling traditions, from African to Inuit to European, Tibetan to Native American to Japanese.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lucy Freeman
The presentation of Trick of the Tale is exquisite and attractive, but it would easily be mistaken for a picture book rather than a serious piece of young adult literature. The stories are certainly well told and have interesting morals to ponder, but simplistic character names such as "Fox" and "Wolf" may discourage older readers. Younger readers probably wouldn't understand the sometimes skewed ethics and actions of characters. It may be a fine read, but its intended audience is far too vague. Reviewer: Lucy Freeman, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Geri Diorio
As the introduction to this wonderful collection of stories explains, human storytellers have been spinning trickster tales for as long as recorded history. Trickster tales show how to triumph over adversity, how to win when the odds are against one, and how to use one's wits to defeat more brawny opponents. This collection gathers stories from around the world. There are legends from India, England, Japan, Russia, North America, Africa, Tibet, and more included here. Familiar tricksters such as Hare, Fox, Coyote, and Ananse the spider make their appearances, along with some tricky creatures readers might not know: Frog, Crow, Crab, Wren, and even Lion. These tales are well told and are illustrated with reproductions of many gorgeous engravings. The first page of each tale features etchings with colorful borders that set off the detailed black-and-white art. This adult reviewer found the tales heartily enjoyable and the art absolutely delectable, but teens might not feel the same. The layout resembles a picture book, so unless teens are working on a school project on fables and folktales, it is difficult to image that they would pick it up on their own. For young people who enjoy folklore and fables, try pushing this fine collection; teens may not even realize how much they will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Geri Diorio
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Animals have long played a part in folklore, and this collection of global tales features a variety of animal characters that either trick or get tricked. The authors have teamed up to create a riveting collection of stories, each one featuring an animal that is notable in the tales of many world cultures. For example, the story "Frog and Crow" was originally told in Tibet. It is the story of a clever frog that outwits a crow in order to avoid becoming his dinner. The story "A Hill of Beans" features a hare, a popular trickster in Japanese mythology. In this story, the hare cunningly tricks his friends and hoards a feast for himself. The black-and-white illustrations that accompany each story are breathtaking. The shading and details of every image make the pictures seemingly come alive on the page. There are twenty tales in all, and each one is sure both to entertain and to provide a valuable lesson. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5- Animal tricksters from many countries practice their crafty ways in this handsome volume. Each of the 20 folktales is introduced with a detailed, full-page ink drawing that resembles a fine print, and illustrations in varying sizes appear throughout. The pictures are both energetic and eloquent, and their formal tone is echoed in generally well-shaped narrative. Occasionally the telling is prolonged or wordy or falls into contemporary colloquial language that is sometimes smooth and at other times jarring: "Hey, Bright One, I've come shopping. I want to buy all of your stories." A brief note about the country of origin appears at the beginning of each story: "This Cossack tale from Russia features a whole gang of creatures-but as usual, it is Fox who comes out on top." No source notes are provided, so readers unfamiliar with any of these tales can only guess at their cultural authenticity. While the attractive animals will appeal to many children, and some of the offerings will read aloud well, the book is most likely to find use with storytellers interested in the trickster tales.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
Packed with humor and wisdom, this choice collection showcases the timeless, cross-cultural fascination with that most wily and wise character, the trickster. Whether they be hares, foxes, ravens, spiders, frogs, rats, coyotes, lions or crows, the tricksters in these tales use cunning and craft to survive and outwit when everything seems hopeless. Using tales from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, this collection draws out themes common to the trickster tradition. The familiar African-American Br'er Rabbit has his cultural counterpart in the Hare from Japanese mythology; known as Reynard in French stories, the fox also appears as a favorite trickster in Finnish tales. While most of the tales focus on mundane affairs, several involve weightier deeds, like the Ojibwa Winabijou the Hare creating the world, the Inuit raven stealing back the light and Ghana's Ananse the Spider forcing the Sky God to surrender all his stories. Tomic's gloriously rendered pen-and-ink illustrations teem with fascinating detail and capture these clever con artists in action. Diverse in scope and rich in presentation. (introduction) (Folklore/anthology. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763636463
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/13/2008
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John and Caitlín Matthews have written more than seventy books, including children’s storybooks about knights, princesses, ghosts, giants, and wizards from Celtic, Arthurian, shamanic, and other traditions. They live in Oxford, England.

Tomislav Tomic’s black-and-white engravings were featured in the national bestseller WIZARDOLOGY, and his illustrations have also appeared in books, on numerous book covers, and in magazines. He lives in Zagreb, Croatia.

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