24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2000
Nearly 800 pages of adventure, humor, and thought abound in this wonderful collection! Included are the tales everyone knows like Rumplestiltskin, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and others we loved as children. But this book also includes wonderful imgainative fantasy that won't appear in every children's fairy tale book. Did you know about the giant who had no heart in his body? How about the mean spirited half-chicken who eventually became a weather vane? This book contains 200 stories from all parts of the world, more varied than the "Small World" ride at disneyland, and just as enjoyable for those who love to read!
Sit down with this book and open a page at random, and guaranteed it will be difficult to put down! Each imaginitive story can be read in only a few minutes, but there are so many of them that it will be difficult to remember them all, and the stories themselves make for great conversation pieces, or to tell to children (which was their original intent after all.) A must read for those who love ancient fantasy!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2005
This rich, nearly 850-page long volume contains two hundred carefully selected folk and fairy tales from all over the world that include adventure, mystery, romance, humor, drama, fantasy and horror. You will find this book difficult to put down whether you decide to enjoy it on your own, or read from it to your children in family gatherings or at bedtime.
Organized by geographic region, from Europe to the Middle East to Asia, Africa and America, this wide-ranging collection includes some well-known stories like "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Beauty and the Beast," and not so known, but equally charming ones like ""The Forest Bride" and "The Fire on the Mountain," all of which will evoke feelings of awe and wonder at the vast wealth of traditions and mythologies of our world's cultures.
Moreover, the wonderful introduction to this volume explains the considerations that went into selecting the tales, commenting on the origins, evolution, lore, compilation and study of the world's folktales, analyzing their motifs, and even presenting interesting comparisons between them.
As a bonus, this book includes a category index to help you choose the tales according to their topic, including tales of Wise Men and Judges, tales of Giants, Ogres and Male Monsters, and tales of Ghosts and the Supernatural, among others. A thorough index by title is also available.
Overall, this is the best collection of fairy tales and folktales available in a single volume.
Get it today, and enjoy it for years to come.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2009
Many of the stories derive from oral tradition where tellers and listeners are kept on track by certain repeated formulas. For example whenever Irish hero Fin MacCoul faces great danger his comrades urge him to chew his thumb:
Fin chewed his thumb, from blood to bone, from bone to marrow,
then he knew what to do.
As you see the stories are not sanitized into mind-numbing blandness. (Wicked stepmothers get theirs just desserts in pretty gruesome ways, too.)
If you are reading to a pre-schooler you will want to read ahead so that you are ready to skip over or tone things down in places. These stories have more punch and hold the interest of kids who are a bit older. They are also attractive for having more variation in word order and sentence structure. You can model using a dictionary for occasional words. (I knew copse was a grove of trees, but beadle required looking up, for example.) You can also use a globe to locate the countries of origin. About half of the 200 stories come from European countires; the other half come from the rest of the world.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Cole's collection of folktales was published originally in 1982. It's ability to stay in print is a testament to is great depth and array of fairy tales from around the world. The tales are organized by region in the table of contents and are grouped by topic and themes in the index. This is a great standard collection of fairy tales for any library.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2008
Though Best-Loved Folktales of the World by Joanna Cole is nearly 800 pages in length, it is still appropriate for people with short attention spans because 200 folk tales are included. Because the stories are so short, and there are so many of them, the reader can start reading at any point in the book. You'll find familiar tales you read as a child such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or unfamiliar ones such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Crab, Chelm Justice, Baby in the Crib, Salt, The Bunyip, and Faithful Even in Death. As an adult, you'll approach these stories much different from the way you approached them as a child. You'll view them with a different set of lens all based on your life experiences. You may find yourself sympathetic toward a character in a tale while you could be frustrated with characters in other tales because they keep on making the same mistake over and over again.
I enjoyed reading this book because I was introduced to stories from all over the world, the majority of which I had never heard about. And, it was amazing to find the same story with a different spin because of cultural differences, such as Rumpelstiltskin and Tom Tit Tot. The folk tales reinforce that we are not as different as we think. The author organizes Best-Loved Folktales of the World by regions and if you are like me, the first section in the table of contents that I rushed to was the Caribbean and was delighted to see an Anansi story from Jamaica among the 200 stories. There were other Anansi stories that originated from the Ashanti Tribe in Africa. For those of you who may not be familiar with the Anansi stories, Brother Anansi is a trickster.
Another good thing about the way the book is organized is the Index of Categories of Tales, which allows the readers to quickly see which tales are appropriate for children, wonderful to read aloud, have a moral, are for women and girls and so on. If you like drama, adventure, romance, mystery, horror or fantasy, there is a tale for you. After reading Best-Loved Folktales of the World, you'll be reminded of the following:
Share what you have with others because there is enough for everyone
Operate with honesty and integrity: do not claim the work of others because the truth has a way of coming out and the consequences can be dire
Asking for help shows strength
Appreciate what you have instead of pining over what you don't have
I recommend Best-Loved Folktales of the World by Joanna Cole because it's not only a page-turner, but it allows you to tap into your inner child and have some fun. Take a step back in time and remember when....
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2013
There are a few well known stories in here which encompass the first few chapters of the book, then the stories are listed geographically. I've noticed that Norway has some grizzly story tales and the Russian Fables are all about Czars and poor stupid pessants. There are a few gems here and there but most of these stories are not ones I would tell to my children because they do not enshrine values I would wish to instil.
For the price you are getting an excellent compendium of fables and tales from across the globe, and from that viewpoint you are seeing what is important to teach the young in different parts of the planet. For that gathering of knowledge I am very appreciative, but the tales selected do not come across to me as altogether interesting or enjoyable.
on April 21, 2012
I received a copy of this collection of folk tales when I was 7 or 8 years old. I only read a few of the stories initially, perhaps because the size of the book (and lack of pictures) was daunting. However, I gradually read more and more of them over the following decade, until I was familiar with all of them. The stories are generally short, though a few are lengthy, and others are perhaps only a few paragraphs; however, the breadth of subjects is remarkable. Joanna Cole succeeds in showing similar themes across cultures, while also demonstrating unique situations and story-telling styles in different cultures or regions. So, for example, the term "a year and a day" is not familiar in an English or Germanic tale, but more so in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia. Clever tricksters are found in all cultures, and an appreciable variety of stories are included.
I loved how she included the little rhymes that are part of the tales: for example, "Tonino and the Fairies" has a Spanish couplet of the days of the week - "Lunes y Martes y Miercoles, tres..." - so lyrical! Or the song sung in "The Magic Orange Tree" (Haiti). The stories are entertaining and inspire the imagination.
I think part of my love of geography, of history, and of travel is because I was introduced to other cultures young, in this form. Although most of the folk tales are of European origin, I greatly enjoyed tales from Asia (like the Japanese tale of the woman chasing a dumpling and ending up cooking for an "oni," or the five brothers (Chinese), or "Why there are no tigers in Borneo"; as well as from Central and South America (such as when the Devil built a church in Honduras, a tale that is Germanic rather than Romance in its folkloric associations) and from Africa (Anansi the spider, among others). The collection would certainly not be complete without those, and not merely because it would no longer be a collection of tales "from around the world." Certainly from a comparative literature point of view, this is a valuable starting place. I am eager to introduce my boys to this book when they're older!
p.s. For interested adults, a course of lectures on the history of human language (I'm thinking of Dr. John McWhorter, on behalf of the Teaching Company) will provide even more sources of interest and delight. An understanding of how human language changes, as well as the diffusion of various language families over space and time, will add another layer to your appreciation of comparative folklore!
on May 16, 2011
Many years ago my mother bought this book for me as a little girl. Throughout the years I would read its tales, and was both entertained and inspired by the stories inside it. Even today as an adult, I never tire of its stories, and even though I have read so many, I still have more I have yet to read.
There is a trememndous amount of traditional folktales from all around the world in this book. In the front of the book is a directory which shows all of the stories and what category they fall under, or rather what region of the world they are from. Then, each story says what country it comes from. They are all written in a very enjoyable style and are entertaining for children and adults alike. Some are very familiar to most Westerners, while others are unheard of among Western cultures, for they come from other cultures.
The book has lasted years and has endured lots of reading. As with any book, it will not endure harsh treatment, stuff being spilt on it, being tugged on and torn apart, but as long as it is treated with respect then it will hold up perfectly well.
There are no pictures in the book, so very young children may not like it as much. However, most very young childre could not read it anyway. I'd say it's fourth grade and up at minimum when it comes to reading level. That's when I recieved it, but preferred having it read to me at the time because it was still admittedly a little difficult for me to read at that age.
This book is one of my most favorites of all of my books and I would (and do) recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is especially wonderful for anyone who has an interest in foreign cultures or folklore.
on April 14, 2009
This book is full of fairytales/folktales all catagorized by where they originated. The index in the back seperates the stories under different topics, to make it easy to find what you want to read about. It is true, that not all these stories are for young ones, but one of the topics in the index is for young children, which allows you to pinpoint just which stories are appropriate to read at bedtime! Now when it comes to yourself...you will have a great time reading through all of these fun tales before your nod off to sleep! I love this book, I seem to be reading a new story every time I open it up...
on May 24, 2014
This is quite a treasure. I wish I'd known about it when my kids were younger.
It's organized by regions of the world. In addition to a title index, the book contains a perfect and much-used Index by Category, with 21 categories ranging from "Especially Good for Young Children," "Wonderful for Reading Aloud," "Fables and Tales with a Moral" to "Quests, Tasks and Victories."
A perfect collection for any home library.