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Marvels & Tales 17.1 (2003) 157-161

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The Celtic Breeze: Stories of the Otherworld from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. By Heather McNeil. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2001. xxxiii + 214 pp.
The Eagle on the Cactus: Traditional Stories from Mexico. Retold by Angel Vigil. Translated by Francisco Miraval. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. xlvii + 223 pp.
Jasmine and Coconuts: South Indian Tales. By Cathy Spagnoli and Paramasivam Samanna. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. xvi + 172 pp.
The Magic Egg and Other Tales from Ukraine. Retold by Barbara J. Suwyn. Edited by Natalie O. Kononenko. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1997. xxxv + 222 pp.
Thai Tales: Folktales of Thailand. Retold by Supaporn Vathanaprida. Edited by Margaret Read MacDonald. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1994. xviii + 152 pp.
A Tiger by the Tail and Other Stories from the Heart of Korea. Retold by Linda Soon Curry. Edited by Chan-eung Park. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. xxi + 120 pp.
When Night Falls, Kric! Krac! Haitian Folktales. By Liliane Nérette Louis. Edited by Fred J. Hay. World Folklore Series. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999. viii + 188 pp. [End Page 157]

There are now seventeen volumes in the World Folklore series, published from 1991 to 2002, with more forthcoming. I examined seven for this review. A few of the volumes are also available on audiotape (not heard for this review). From a storyteller's perspective, all are pleasing. However, from a folklorist perspective, the series is inconsistent. The geographic range covered by the series at this point is uneven, with most volumes from Europe and Asia; however, the series is growing rapidly and this may change. Most volumes are the result of teamwork between two people, usually a storyteller and an editor with academic credentials, but some volumes lack an editor. The credentials of the advisory board members for the series—Simon J. Bronner, Natalie Kononenko, Norma J. Livo, Margaret Read MacDonald, and Joseph Bruchac—suggest that the intent is to provide stories that will satisfy folklorists as well as a general public, but some volumes succeed better than others.

The books target a school and public library audience. All include some kind of supplemental material in addition to the stories themselves, apparently chosen with an eye to making these stories useful for classroom teaching. However, the nature of the supplemental material varies from one volume to the next. The introductions range from eight to forty-seven pages and from an intimate, personal account to detailed historical and cultural overviews of the country. All include color photographs and some sort of bibliography. One volume includes recipes, another music. After examining the range of supplemental material represented in several volumes, my ideal format for this series would include a personal introduction from the reteller; a cultural and historical overview from a qualified editor or the reteller; maps; thematically organized stories with brief comments on each category or story from the teller; detailed source notes including tale types and motifs for each story; a glossary and pronunciation guide for specialized vocabulary; a bibliography with separate sections for collections of tales and for the historical and cultural material; a detailed index; color photographs illustrating folk arts and culture; additional illustrations in a style appropriate for that culture; and biographical information on the author, editor, and artists. All of these features are present in the volumes of this series, but few volumes have every one of them, and there doesn't appear to be a standardized format for the series. The format and content of individual volumes appear to be somewhat idiosyncratic.

The feature I would most like to see appear consistently is detailed...


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