Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Genre Reading Group - Folktales, fables, and myths

This year has flown by at warp speed so here we find ourselves once again getting ready for Salon Discussion on Tuesday evening, December 28th at 6:30pm. The Library will be on Holiday Hours, closing at 6pm, but I will be here to let you in! Pick ANY book you'd like and come tell us about it!

Folktales, fables, and myths are handed down generation to generation in every part of the world and we learned about this first hand at the last Genre Reading Group (GRG) discussion! From childhood rhymes to vengeful Japanese ghosts to Lewis Carroll's literary menagerie, we explored vast worlds outside the one we inhabit every day. Have a look at the books we shared and explore these worlds for yourself!

In 1963, Judge Charles Whedbee was asked to substitute on a morning show called Carolina Today on Greenville, North Carolina's, television station while one of the program's regulars was in the hospital. Whedbee took the opportunity to tell some of the Outer Banks stories he'd heard during his many summers at Nags Head. The station received such a volume of mail in praise of his tale-telling that he was invited to remain even after the man he was substituting for returned to the air. "He had a way of telling a story that really captured me," said one of the program's co-hosts. "Whether he was talking about a sunset, a ghost, or a shipwreck, I was there, living every minute of it." Word traveled as far as Winston-Salem, where John F. Blair proposed to Whedbee that he compile his stories in book form. Whedbee welcomed the challenge, though his expectations for the manuscript that became Legends of the Outer Banks and Tar Heel Tidewater were modest. "I wrote it out of a love for this region and the people whom I'd known all my life," he said. "I didn't think it would sell a hundred copies." The Lost Colony, Indians, Blackbeard, an albino porpoise that guided ships into harbor-the tales in that volume form the core of Outer Banks folklore. Whedbee liked to tell people that his stories were of three kinds: those he knew to be true, those he believed to be true, and those he fabricated. But despite much prodding, he never revealed which were which.

The perfect bedside companion for every bird-watcher and nature lover, inside Flights of Fancy you’ll find:

“Don’t promise the crane in the sky, but give the titmouse in your hand.”
Russian proverb

“One for sorrow, two for joy…”
Traditional English rhyme

“The owl shrieked at thy birth, an evil sign.”
Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III

“The peacock is ashamed of its large black feet.”
Medieval Persian tradition

“When the raven tried to bring fire to the world, ash turned its feathers black.”
Cherokee Indian legend

“Sewing a swan’s feather into your husband’s pillow will keep him faithful.”
British superstition

Fabulous animals and birds have fascinated and intrigued men from the earliest times: the Greeks had their centaurs and satyrs, the Chinese their qilin and fenghuang, and today we have Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But is there any truth in these myths? Do real animals or real animal behavior lurk behind the legends? In this engrossing and highly readable book, author Peter Costello examines a wide range of strange creatures in his attempt to uncover the truth.

Aesop's Fables selected by Joseph Jacobs
Aesop's Fables or Aesopica refers to a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. His fables are some of the most well known in the world.

A collection of new and wacky fables with fresh morals, which are about all kinds of bossy, sneaky, funny and annoying people. A general moral offered by the book is, "If you are planning to write fables, don't forget to change people's names and avoid places with high cliffs".

The Three Questions written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth
What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo's cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.

From Booklist
This unusual collection will elicit gasps of recognition, if not downright guffaws. It is irreverent, earthy, and gross as well as funny. In three sections--"Getting Down to Basics," "Dealing with Authority," and "The Commercial World" --the authors insightfully explore a variety of songs, insults, gruesome jokes, and offensive, bawdy rhymes (including some raunchy anatomical ones) invented by or passed around among children. Although the folklore here is from North America, the introduction points out that similar songs and sayings are shared by adults and children the world over. Opening with 20 versions of the familiar "greasy, grimy gopher guts" rhyme, the book combines hilarity and serious commentary as it proceeds through subject areas ranging from bodily functions, death, pregnancy, and school to parents, friends, and "The Life and Deaths of Barney." Extensive source notes and a bibliography round out a fascinating look at the culture of childhood, which should be required reading for anyone working with young people. Kids will like the book, too. Janice del Negro

Zickary Zan: Childhood Folklore compiled by Jack and Olivia Solomon
Alabama authors discuss childhood folklore and the process of collecting stories and histories.

Folk Toys Around the World and How to Make Them by Joan Joseph
1970's title which introduces toys from various countries, gives directions for constructing them, and discusses the materials needed. (not available in the JCLC system)

The Foxfire series of books compiled from Foxfire magazine, a 1960’s survey of Appalachian culture

During the latter half of the 19th century, American journalist Lafcadio Hearn became our nation's great interpreter of all things Japanese. His superb translation of 20 supernatural tales teems with undead samurais, man-eating goblins, and other terrifying demons. These classic ghost stories inspired the Oscar®-nominated 1964 film of the same name. (neither is available in the JCLC system)

Mythical Beasts of Japan: From Evil Creatures to Sacred Beings by Koichi Yumoto, Hiroyuki Kano, and Akiko Taki
A collection of glorious imaginary beings from Japanese mythology. The newest volume in the Traditional Patterns series, this book is a visual introduction to a variety of Japanese mythical beasts. Japanese imaginary creatures, such as Byakko (White Tiger), Suzaku (Vermilion Bird), Genbu (Black Tortoise), and Ryu (Japanese Dragon), were handed down from ancient Chinese mythology. Prayers were often offered to these beings since they are believed to cause mischief among ordinary mortals. Most of the featured works, mainly from the 12th century to the 19th century, feature motifs of sacred animals painted by artists such as Kawanabe Kyosai, Ito Jakuchu, Utagawa Kuniyoshi ,and more. Moreover, all kinds of the evil creatures, such as devils and goblins, and the deities from Japanese folklore are depicted in all their splendid glory in paintings, carved wood, decorative art pieces such as mirrors, incense burners, and much more.

Among contemporary artists the undisputed master of preindustrial Americana is Eric Sloane, whose wistful, bitter-sweet paintings and precise drawings preserve for us and for posterity a loving reflection of a rural way of life that has for the most part vanished.

The Mythology of Native North America by David Leeming and Jake Page
The authors have provided an introduction and commentary on seventy-two myths drawn from a variety of cultures and language groups. They honor the Native pantheons, cosmologies, heroes, and heroines first as cultural expressions, then as variations on other mythic narrative to which they may be related, and ultimately as expression of the larger human experience of myth making.

Wildflower Folklore by Laura C. Martin
Engaging legends, medicinal uses, myths, and stories about 105 North American wildflowers along with botanical information and accurate illustrations.

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