Long before the invention of papyrus in Ancient Egypt and the invention of the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century, legends and stories were passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Over the centuries many of these tales have become so familiar to us that they feel like old friends.
To pay homage to these classic folktales and fables, March 19-25 has been designated as “World Folktales & Fables Week.” These stories with which we are familiar, and those we have yet to discover, originate from every part of the world.
“Children’s and Household Tales” is a collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, and is commonly known in English as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” To access the library’s online catalog go to manatee.polarislibrary.com. You can find collections of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales by either a title search (“Grimms’ Fairy Tales”) or individual stories by an author search (under either “Grimm, Jacob” or “Grimm, Wilhelm”).
Anansi the Spider is the most famous folktale character from West Africa, particularly in the country of Ghana. In the Caribbean, Anansi is a hero and seen as a symbol of slave resistance. Baba Yaga, most commonly portrayed as a witch who flies around on a mortar and pestle and lives in a house which stands on chicken legs, is a legend of Slavic folklore. Find Anansi and Baba Yaga books by a subject search of those names.
There are hundreds of folktales in the Manatee County Public Library System that can be found in the non-fiction section in the 398.2 Dewey Decimal area. Just ask a staff member to point you in the right direction. The following specific titles (and more) are available for checkout from your local library:
For children, the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood is retold in the award-winning rendition, “Lon Po Po: a Red-Riding Hood Story from China” by Ed Young. It’s available as a regular print book and in eAudiobook and eVideo versions on the library’s Hoopla database. “Anansi Goes Fishing” is an illustrated tale by Eric A. Kimmel which explains the origins of spider webs. “Jack: the True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk” by Liesl Shurtliff is a chapter book retelling of the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.
For young adults, writer Alex Flinn is an expert folk and fairytale re-teller. Her most famous book, “Beastly” is a modern day Beauty and the Beast story and is available in regular print, Young Adult Playaway (audiobook) and as a movie adaptation on DVD.
Finally, for adults, Australian author Kate Forsyth holds a Ph.D. in fairytale retellings. Her latest novel, “The Wild Girl,” (in regular print, Playaway, and eAudiobook on Hoopla) tells the story of how Jacob and William Grimm collected tales from around Germany for what would later be known as “Children’s and Household Tales.”
Celebrate with us and check out a folktale today.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Kimberly Barbour is a youth services librarian at the Rocky Bluff Library.