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Black Folktales Paperback – January 10, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0802132420 ISBN-10: 0802132421 Edition: 1st Evergreen ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Evergreen ed edition (January 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802132421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802132420
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #867,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
The book I am reviewing is called Black Folktales, it is by Julius Lester and illustrated by Tom Feelings. This book falls under the category folktales and fairytales. Before I tell you more about the book let me say that the illustrations were amazing. Anyways, the book consisted of short stories about blacks in the south. There were stories about blacks on plantations and about god and how he created the world. Most of the stories were very good and interesting and most of them I enjoyed reading although there were a few mediocre stories mixed in too. The writers writing style I thought was very good. It definitely kept me entertained through out the whole book. There were some very funny stories in the book. there was one about a black man that was feared through out the land, and was supposed to die a couple of times but he kept escaping death, until St. Peter told god that this black man was supposed to have died thirty years ago. God immediately called the grim reaper who started complaining cause he hadn't gotten more the five minutes of sleep in the last two days. He started telling god that he needed some assistants, or else. Anyways I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on January 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a good overview of Black Folklore for the novice of the genre, a teaching tool, or for people who just enjoy good stories.

Julius Lester, one of the few living public specialists of tales of this type, begins with a few African stories to show the root of this field. From there, he goes to stories of pre-and post slavery America.

He includes some time honored classics of Black Folklore. "High John The Conqueror," of a slave who outwits his master, was a favorite of my Dad that I have also seen elsewhere as "Big Sixteen" and "Old John" is a welcome addition to this set. In fact I used to regale my friends with this story when I was 12. Read it and you'll see why. Also, the "Bad man" legend of "Stagolee" spieces things up a bit (a forerunner of the type of tales found in gagster rap, minus the vulgarity) and the slave classic "People Who Could Fly," which was first known to be collected along the Charleston (SC) sea islands in the 1920s.

Unfortuantely, most of these tales are not told anymore except by professional storytellers. Additionally, many books that tended to contain such stories in the early 1900s when such tales were still often told were so laden with dialect (Joel Chandler Harris, Ambrose Gonzales, et. al.) that they are often incomprehenbsible to the modern reader. Many kudos to Mr. Lester for keeping this wonderful art form alive.

PS, Mr. Lester inquired of the source of the last story in the book. I recall reading it in Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules & Men" (1935). Hope this helps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Charnock on November 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
These tales--told in "street talk"--will be liked by some, not by others; are humorous to some, not to others. Ones most anyone would enjoy are: "Why Apes Look Like People," "Why Men Have to Work," "How the Snake Got His Rattles," and "High John the Conqueror."

(Traditional Literature: I/JH & up)
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By Juandalyn Holland on December 31, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was torn and some of the pages were removed. NOT SATISFIED AT ALL! THE BOOK WAS A WASTE OF MONEY . My kids could not enjoy at all
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More About the Author

Born in 1939, Julius Lester spent his youth in the Midwest and the South and received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.Since 1968 he has published 25 books of fiction, nonfiction, children's books, and poetry. Among the awards these books have received are the Newbery Honor Medal, American Library Association Notable Book, National Jewish Book Award Finalist, The New York Times Outstanding Book, National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Caldecott Honor Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and a National Book Award Finalist. His books have been translated into eight languages.He has published more than one hundred essays and reviews in such publications The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Op-Ed Page, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The New Republic, Katallagete, Moment, Forward, and Dissent.He has recorded two albums of original songs, hosted and produced a radio show on WBAI-FM in New York City for eight years, and hosted a live television show on WNET in New York for two years. A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, his photographs of that movement are included in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and are part of the permanent photographic collection at Howard University.After teaching at the New School for Social Research for two years, Mr. Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in 1971 where he is presently a full professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department, and adjunct professor in the English and History departments. He also serves as lay religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.He has been awarded all four of the university's most prestigious faculty awards: The Distinguished Teacher's Award; the Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship; Distinguished Faculty Lecturer; and recipient of the Chancellor's Medal, the University's highest honor. In 1986 the Council for Advancement and Support of Education selected him as the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year.Mr. Lester's biography has appeared in Who's Who In America since 1970. He has given lectures and papers at more than 100 colleges and universities.His most recent books are John Henry, And All Our Wounds Forgiven, a novel about the civil rights movement, and Othello, a novel based on the Shakespeare play.

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