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1. Review of You Can’t Have Too Many Friends!

gerstein you cant have too many friends Review of You Cant Have Too Many Friends!You Can’t Have Too Many Friends!
by Mordicai Gerstein; 
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Holiday    32 pp.
4/14    978-0-8234-2393-4    $16.95    g
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3101-4    $16.95

This retold French folktale (“Drakestail”) stars a farmer duck who, in this absurdist version, is wealthy in the jelly beans he has grown. When the little-boy king “borrows” his jelly beans and doesn’t return them, Duck sets off on a quest to get them back. Along the way, he meets a large, friendly, shaggy green dog who “shrinks and hops into Duck’s pocket”; “Lady Ladder” who does the same; a burbling brook that Duck carries in his gullet; and some wasps transported in Duck’s ear. These new friends all come in handy when the king declines to give back the candy. Listening children will anticipate the role of each of Duck’s pals and will enjoy seeing the king’s nasty acts rightfully rewarded, especially when he’s chased naked out of his bathtub by the wasps. This is anything but a heavy-handed moral treatment, though — Gerstein’s pen-and-ink, acrylic, and colored-pencil illustrations employ a cheerful palette, with scribbly lines and dialogue bubbles. Each picture includes humorous details such as the web-footed claw bathtub and the queen’s fuzzy slippers. And in the end, the king makes reparations, sitting down to a jelly-bean feast with Duck and his odd group of friends.

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The post Review of You Can’t Have Too Many Friends! appeared first on The Horn Book.

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2. Native American, Lloyd Arneach, talks about his fire for storytelling

With the release of our new book, “First Fire,” which is a retelling of a Cherokee folktale, we decided to sit down with storyteller, Lloyd Arneach, to find out more about the culture and the art of storytelling. Arneach is a longtime Native American storyteller that got his start in a rather interesting and unexpected way. He’s keen on Cherokee culture, having lloyd_arneach_frontgrown up in Cherokee, North Carolina, and learning from his family. Arneach spent about twenty years sharing the culture and history of his people at universities, museums and even Girl Scout meetings. Now he’s been a storyteller now for over twenty years and still has a lot of stories to be told.

 

Me: Can you tell me a little bit about how you first got involved with storytelling? What inspired you?

Lloyd: Well, I really backed into it! My late wife and I were living in Atlanta, and we had a babysitter who was in a Girl Scout troop. And she couldn’t find a book on Indians in the entire county library system. And she said, “wait a minute! I babysit for an Indian, maybe he can help me.” So she called me up and asked if I could help her and I said sure. She told me the requirements, and they were fairly simple and I said, “sure! But I’m going to have to come straight from work, I won’t have time to go home and change. Is that going to be a problem?” She said no, so the next Girl Scout meeting I came straight from work. I went in and sat down and the young girls looked at me and I could hear one of them say, “I don’t know where the Indian is but he’s going to be here pretty soon.” I was working as a computer programmer at that time and I was wearing a three-piece suit, so you don’t see many Indians in three-piece suits. I got up to talk and you could hear their jaws hitting the ground. She started calling other scout leaders who had the same problem in that county, they couldn’t find books on the Indians. I became a resource material as a result. Boy scouts started calling, and then schools started calling, and museums started calling. I was sharing primarily Cherokee culture and history at that time.

In 1985, I got a call from student at Georgia State University and she said she was in a Folklore class. Her assignment was to record stories from original tellers, and I said she would need to go to the reservation in Cherokee to find a storyteller. She said “no, you’d be fine!” So she came and recorded some stories, and I didn’t think anything about it. Then in ‘88 I got a call from Dr. John Burleson at Georgia State and he said “I teach the Folklore class here at Georgia State and our students have been collecting stories. And the stories we have recorded from you I’m going to be putting in a book with these others I have collected, and I’m calling all storytellers to be invited to a book signing. Would you be willing to come?” I said, well let me know. Well, in November of ‘88, we discovered my wife had a terminal brain tumor. It destroyed her motor capabilities and she couldn’t walk, she had very little control of her hands. But her mental capabilities were still there and her ability to communicate had not diminished. My father-in-law, my son, and I brought her home and someone was with her twenty-four hours a day. I was still working at that time, so I would go to work and my father-in-law and son would be taking care of FirstFire-Spread-10her during the day and I would come home and I would relieve my father-in-law and he’d go fix supper and come back and relieve me while I ate supper. This is how it went until the spring of ’89. Dr. Burleson called me back and said “we’re going to have a book signing in September would you be willing to come?” And I talked to my wife, Charlotte, and she said “go ahead!” you know, I needed to get out of the house. Well, she passed away in the end of August in ’89 and I was doing everything I could to fill my time. So I went to the book signing and as I was taking a break, a lady came up to me and said “I’m Betty Ann Wylie and I’m a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. We have a storytime festival in January, would you be willing to come and share your stories?” and I said “YES!” so in January of 1990, I started sharing stories. It was never something I intended to do.

So from 1970 to1990, I was just sharing Cherokee culture and history, but in 1990 I started sharing stories and I’ve been doing it ever since. So it was never something I intended to do, I literally backed into it.

It’s something I thoroughly enjoy, I had never really thought about it. I was a very introverted individual. My late wife brought me out of my shell. She taught me that people are interesting, but you have to talk with them to find out these interesting things about them. If you don’t talk, you don’t know. She was a very good people person; she had unbelievable people skills. She taught me to come out and enjoy people, and if she hadn’t done that I would have never agreed to do the first session in front of the girl scouts.

 

Me: How did you learn the stories? Who taught you?

Lloyd: I had two great uncles who were wonderful storytellers and at our family gatherings, Uncle George would tell a story and Uncle Dave would tell a story. It was like a tennis match! And without realizing it, I was learning the old stories of our people. And then my mother had Tuberculosis for two years and I went to live with my great uncle. My great aunt taught French at the University of Oklahoma, so we went out during the winter to Oklahoma where she teached University. My other aunt, my mom’s sister, was studying languages and lived on the cottage at Aunt Dell and Uncle George’s property. She and Aunt Dell would speak French. Well without realizing it, I was in second grade, I started picking up conversational French. So after the school year ended, we came back to Cherokee for the summer. I was walking through downtown Cherokee, after graduating from the second grade, and this tourist stopped me and said “Hau! You speak-a the English?” and I said “Bonjour! Comment ça va?” He called his wife over, “hey Gertrude! Get over here and listen to this kid speak Indian!” So that’s when I realized how much people really didn’t know about Indians, in second grade. So when I was going out sharing culture, I tried not to dress in the feathers and buck skin, because I realized the young people would think this is what an Indian looks like today. So I wanted to try to avoid that stereotype. Also not many people knew of an Indian who was a computer programmer – they don’t associate those two.

 

Me: Do you find that stories change over time since they are all learned through word-of-mouth?

Lloyd: The nucleus of the story stays the same, but each person uses different words. Some people might use very flowery descriptions of the “long winding trail to the sharp rock,” somebody else might say “he took the long trail up to the top of the mountain.” But still, the important essence was that he went to the top of the mountain.lloyd_arneach_1_600w

 

Me: Which do you prefer? Do you prefer more flowery descriptions?

Lloyd: Not flowery, but I try and visualize the story as I’m telling it and describe what I see. I’m aware the audience may not be aware if I say “there were snake dens,” but if I say “there were Rattlesnake dens,” suddenly they’re realizing “oh my gosh! This wasn’t just a walk past snakes, but they were dangerous snakes!” and it pulls their attention into the story. I’m trying to keep the audience involved in the story. If I say, “Well, there were some Indian medicine right along the trail, that means nothing. If I say “there was kudzu” which we have learned to use for medicine, they say “oh!” and it’s a totally different approach to the story.

 

Me: Do you have a personal favorite story to tell?

Lloyd: Yes, Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce. A very moving story and for me, I have to have about an hour with the audience. And what I do when I first go into a program, I do a couple of stories and do a very quick read on the audience. And by “read,” I mean that when I tell a story, there may be a point in the story where the audience should react and they may laugh, but instead their response should be an “ohhh yes” and when I get that reaction I realize they don’t understand the story. And so I’ll switch to a different group of stories and they’ll never realize the program has changed in mid-stride. It’s just been garnered over years of sharing with different groups and seeing how they respond. One of the best pieces of advice came from an internationally known storyteller named Carmen Deedy, and she was really my first good mentor when I was coming up. She was very quick, she picked things up very very fast, a very intelligent woman. And we were talking, I was grousing about the programs I had and how I couldn’t get this one guy to pay attention. And she said “Lloyd, if there are a hundred people in the room and one person isn’t paying attention to you, why are you focusing on them? There are ninety-nine people who are hanging on every word, share with them. If the one person comes around, fine, but reward the ninety-nine people for their attention.”

That would save me so much heartache over the years, because it was obvious some people didn’t want to be there. “Storytelling? That’s for kids!” But I’d tell them, if you give me twenty minutes and an open mind, I will change the mind of any adult.

I’m seventy and I only have a few summers left where I can get out and travel on my own without someone attending me or worrying about me. So I’m cutting down a lot of my programs now, because there’s still things I want to do – I’ve still got my bucket list! And that involves traveling.

 

Me: Is there one thing you’d want younger generations to know about the Cherokee or storytelling?

Lloyd: Stories are meant to be shared. Share them. Everybody has stories. They might not realize it but everybody has stories.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Lloyd Arneach, visit his webstie at www.arneach.com

Learn more about our book “First Fire” here: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=FirstFire


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3. Folklore Bookmarks

raven

Saving these for a rabbit trail per Rose’s request…

Intro to Folklore Course (Dr. Mary Magoulick)

Mary Magoulick’s Youtube page and large Folklore website

The Folklore Society

Native American Lore Index

Indian Legends of California and the Southwest

Mythology-Folklore Online Course

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4. Bera The One Headed Troll In Ink Wash

I've been incorporating more ink wash into my work lately and getting some interesting results! I'm always keen to balance expressiveness with a certain polish and I think this helps to that end. 

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5. St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans

Are you all ready for a St. Patrick's Day celebration this weekend?

Try your luck at this Leprechaun puzzle.

Or if you'd like to discover how to write a Limerick, check out this information and write an example on a shamrock, no less.

And of course, there are always fun Irish stories to read. In A POT OF GOLD by Kathleen Krull, you'll be sure to find plenty of entertaining shenanigans.


Thanks to illustrator, Kit Grady, for this lovely fairy picture. She's the awesome illustrator for two of my Pet Grammar Parade books, DOGGIE DAY CAMP and HAMSTER HOLIDAYS.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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6. Picture Book Roundup - old favorites

Today's Picture Book Roundup features older winners of the Caldecott Medal. 

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
I recently completed a class, "The Caldecott Medal: Understanding Distinguished Art in Picture Books," offered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and taught by K.T. Horning.

In addition to learning much that I didn't know about art, I had the opportunity to encounter or revisit some Caldecott Medal winners that predate my career as a librarian. I have been working in a library since 2005, and received my masters degree and first professional librarian position in 2007. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938. Clearly, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Though I did not read them all, I did read many older winners. Here are some of my favorites from the years prior to 1990:

(In order by publication date - award dates are the January following the publication year)

  • Langstaff, John. 1955. Frog Went A-Courtin'. New York: Harcourt Brace. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky.

Richly detailed and expressive animals illustrate this favorite old folk song.  (If you don't know the song, Frog Went A-Courtin', Burl Ives' rendition was a classic)  This is my favorite of all the older Caldecotts.

  • Mosel, Arlene. 1972. The Funny Little Woman. New York: Dutton. Illustrated by Blair Lent.

Humorous, with inventive illustrations, the funny little woman travels to a world beneath her simple home in Japan.


  • Yorinks, Arthur. 1986. Hey. Al. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. Illustrated by Richard Egielski.

Generally disliked by most of my classmates, this quirky, surreal story about a man and his dog really grows on you.


  • Yolen, Jane. 1987. Owl Moon. New York: Philomel. Illustrated by John Schoenherr.

I have been fortunate enough to hear owls in the night many times, though the only ones I have been able to spot are the low-flying burrowing owls.  In Owl Moon, the thrill of a night-time owling expedition is captured brilliantly in both illustration and prose.

  • Young, Ed. 1989. Lon Po Po:A Red-Riding Hood Story from China.  New York: Philomel.

 
A masterpiece of danger, suspense and courage - a classic folktale. The only one of my picks written and illustrated by the same person, it's no surprise that it's a pitch-perfect pairing of text and art.

A complete list of Caldecott Medal winners 1938-present, may be found here.


I've left off many other wonderful old medal winners, I know.  Feel free to chime in with your favorite Caldecott winners from the 1930s-1980s.


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7. Vodnik - Review


Publication date: 28 March 2012 by Tu Books
ISBN 10/13: 1600608523 | 9781600608520

Category: Young Adult Paranormal Fiction
Keywords: Slovakia, folklore, prejudice, bullying
Format: Hardcover
Source: Sent for review by Lee & Low

Synopsis: 

When Tomas was six, someone — something — tried to drown him. And burn him to a crisp. Tomas survived, but whatever was trying to kill him freaked out his parents enough to convince them to move from Slovakia to the United States.

Now sixteen-year-old Tomas and his family are back in Slovakia, and that something still lurks somewhere. Nearby. It wants to drown him again and put his soul in a teacup. And that’s not all. There’s also the fire víla, the water ghost, pitchfork-happy city folk, and Death herself who are after him.

If Tomas wants to survive, he'll have to embrace the meaning behind the Slovak proverb, So smrťou ešte nik zmluvu neurobil. With Death, nobody makes a pact.



Alethea's review:

I will admit, I was a little sidetracked by the cover when I first received this book. There's just something too unreal about Tomas's face and the cutesy reaper logo on his shirt. He's a little too smirky. When I finally started the book, there were all these references to movies and American culture that I felt were a bit gratuitous and designed to draw in the reluctant reader. I put the book down for a while.

When I started it a second time (months later), I couldn't put it down! I could understand the culture shock that Tomas was going through, having gone back to my homeland to live (permanently, or so I thought at the time) after spending a few years in America. I found myself trying to sound out the Slovak as I went along. Vodník definitely gets points for originality--this is pretty uncommon territory for mainstream young adult novels.

I really enjoyed the storytelling and characterization in this novel. After a few chapters it became apparent to me that this was much more than an attempt to be different--Moore really engages the reader not just with geek references and creepy folktales, but also with family dynamics. The way Tomas interacts with his parents, his cousin Katka, and Uncle Lubos grounds this fantastic story and made him relatable despite the far-out mythology surrounding him.

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8. Book of the day: April

BOOK OF THE DAY-April

The full April list is here. Get a sneak peak at the 2nd half of the month and stock up for summer vacation too!

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9. Seven bens and seven glens and seven mountain moors - Katherine Langrish



I shouldn’t be writing this.

I’m about four chapters (I think – I hope) from the end of a book that I actually began writing nearly two years ago. For various family reasons it then got put on hold for at least ten months – and I have nearly 26 different versions of the first four pages: I know, because I labelled them by the letters of the alphabet.

This is a long gestation, even for me. I’m not a writer who plans the book chapter by chapter, then does a first draft of the whole thing. I’m a writer who proceeds by a sort of instinctive groping, like someone following a path through thick mist. There’ll be landmarks on the way – things I come to with relief, because I’ve known from the beginning that they’ll be there. But how to get from one landmark to another – that’s a journey of discovery done step by step.

In my last book, ‘Troll Blood’, for example, I saw from the beginning that at some point the hero, Peer Ulfsson, would find a broken dragonhead from a wrecked longship, lying half submerged in a tide-pool. (This is a good example of a faun-with-an-umbrella: see my last posting!) But it wasn’t for months, when I finally came to write the scene, that I realised the dragonhead symbolised his dead father, and the dragonhead itself took on a spooky, malevolent life I’d never expected. These are things you find upon the way.

And the reason it took months to reach that point is that I write and rewrite every page over and over as I go. Till they feel perfect. This is frustrating for my editor, who has to take the book on trust – there’s never a point where she can ask to see an early draft – because there isn’t one. When I come to the last full stop on the final page, that’s when book is done, finished, complete at last. It’s an emotional moment, like when they finally hand you the baby you’ve been struggling to birth. I sometimes cry.

Fairy tales and folktales are full of stock phrases, repeated over and over with incantatory effect, not just, I think, to aid re-telling and memory but because like snatches of poetry they send a shiver down the spine and are recognised as emotional truth. Here’s one that’s works for me just now: in a Scottish folktale the hero has to travel ‘over seven bens and seven glens and seven mountain moors’ to accomplish his task. Here I am, several mountain moors still to go, but the seven bens and the seven glens are certainly behind me, and it no longer seems totally impossible that I shall, eventually, finish this book!

5 Comments on Seven bens and seven glens and seven mountain moors - Katherine Langrish, last added: 8/25/2008
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10. Drawing the Wind: L’Shana Tova 5769

Howard Schwartz is a Professor of English at the University of Missouri- St. Louis, his book Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism won the National Jewish Book Award in 2005. In his most recent book, Leaves From The Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales, Schwartz has gathered fairy tales, folktales, supernatural tales and mystical tales- representing the full range of Jewish folklore, from the Talmud to the present.  In the excerpted story below, chosen by Schwartz to help us celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we learn how a young boy’s talent can save the day.

Long ago, on the Spanish island of Majorca, a young boy spent most of each day at the shore, sketching the ships that sailed into the harbor.  Solomon was a wonderful artist, everyone agreed.  His drawings seemed so real that people wondered if the waves in his pictures were as wet as they seemed-or the sun as hot.

His father was a great rabbi who really preferred Solomon to spend his time studying, but Solomon would always slip away to the shore.

A few days before Rosh ha-Shanah, a ship arrived from the city of Barcelona.  Solomon overheard one of the sailors talking to a local merchant.

“There’s news from Spain that will make every Jew on the island tremble.”

“What is it?” asked the merchant.

“The king and queen have decreed that all the Jews in the land must give up their religion and become Christian.”

“And if they refuse?”

“Then they must leave at once,” said the sailor.

“But what if they want to stay?”

“Then they lose their lives.”

Solomon was frightened.  He didn’t want to leave his beautiful island. He ran home to tell the news to his father, Rabbi Simeon ben Tzemah Duran.

“Must we leave, Father?” asked Solomon.

“I cannot leave, my son,” said his father.  “The other Jews look to me for guidance.  I must stay until they all escape.  But you should go, and I will join you later in Algiers.”

“I won’t leave you,” said Solomon.  “You are all I have since Mother died.  Surely God will protect us.”

Rabbi Simeon hugged his brave son. “Then let us work together and spread the word that everyone must meet in the synagogue.”  They hurried through the village, knocking at the doors of every Jewish home and shop.

When everyone had gathered at the house of prayer, Rabbi Simeon told them about the terrible decree.

“Save us!” they cried out in fear.

They hoped their beloved rabbi would work a miracle.  For they knew his prayers had once turned back a plague of locusts.  Another time, when crops were withering in the fields, his prayers had brought rain.

“You have only three choices,” Rabbi Simeon told the men.  “You can escape by sailing to Algiers.  You can stay and pretend to convert, but secretly remain a Jew.  Or you can defy the king and queen.  As for me, I would rather go to my grave than say I am giving up my religion.” Solomon realized how strong his father was and how he strengthened and comforted his people.

In the days that followed, most of the Jews crowded onto ships, taking very little with them.  They saw to it that the women and children took the first available ships.  Some Jews stayed and pretended to convert, in order to save their lives.  They were known as Conversos, but in secret they continued to follow their Jewish ways.

Only a handful of Jews openly refused to convert.  Among them were Solomon’s father and Solomon himself.  They planned to leave together, once they were certain that all those who wanted to escape had done so.

By then it was the start of Rosh ha-Shanah.  Rabbi Simeon and Solomon and those few who dared enter the synagogue prayed with great intensity, in hope that their names would be written in the Book of Life. For on Rosh ha-Shanah that decision is said to be made on high.  Surely God would hear their prayers and guard over them.

All went well the first day, but on the second day of Rosh ha-Shanah, just after the sounding of the shofar, soldiers rushed into the synagogue and dragged them all away.  They were cast into a prison cell, where Rabbi Simeon continued to lead the prayers by heart.  Solomon would have been terrified if he hadn’s seen how calm his father remained.

None of them slept that night.  Even though Rosh ha-Shanah had ended, they stayed awake, praying.  The cell was very dark, with only one high window.  But at dawn it let a little sunlight in.  When Rabbi Simeon saw it, he said, “Have faith, my brothers.  For just as there is a bit of light, so there is hope, and I feel that God has heard our prayers and will protect us.”

The guard overheard them and laughed.  “You think you have hope.  You have just three days to live.  Then you die.  Let’s see what your God does for you then.”

Rabbi Simeon saw how frightened they were. So he turned to Solomon and said, “Won’t you help us pass the time?  Why don’t you draw one of those ships you do so well?”

Solomon couldn’t believe his ears.  His father was asking him to draw? Solomon felt in his pocket and pulled out his last piece of chalk.  When he looked up, he though he saw a hint of a smle on his father’s face.

Solomon remembered all the ships he had watched from the shore, and he began to draw the one he thought was the most beautiful on the sunlit wall.  The wind he drew filled the great sails, and he added barrels of wine and bushels of wheat.

Solomon’s father and the other men watched him draw until the sun set and the prison cell was enveloped in darkness.  Then they began to pray to God to save them.  Once again, they prayed all night.

The next day, Solomon continued to work on his drawing.  Little by little he finished every detail of the ship, and then he drew the sea around it.  The waves looked as if they might spill right off the wall and splash onto the floor.

The picture seemed finished, but Solomon didn’t want to stop.  His father suggested that he draw the two of them, there on the deck.  This Solomon did, and all the men marveled at the fine resemblances.  Then the second day in prison ended, and again they prayed throughout the night.

When the sun rose on the third day, one of the men asked Solomon to draw him on the ship, too. “For I would like to be with you.” And one by one, the others made the same request.  But when darkness fell, Solomon had not yet finished drawing the last man.

That night they prayed to God with all their hearts, for they knew the execution was set for sunrise the next day.  All of the men shook with fear, except for Rabbi Simeon.  Solomon took strength from his father, and he, too, remained unafraid.

As soon as the first light of dawn came through the window, Solomon took out his chalk and quickly finished drawing the last man.

Just as he drew the final line, he heard keys jangling.  The soldiers were coming to unlock the door to their cell.  Then Solomon and all the men would be taken to the courtyard for their execution.

Solomon turned to his father and saw that he was deep in prayer.  And, at that very moment, he heard his father pronounce God’s secret name out loud.

Suddenly Solomon could not hear the guards in the hallway, and when he looked down, he saw that he was standing on the deck of the beautiful ship he had drawn on the prison wall.

His father and all the other men in the picture were with him, safely aboard a real ship floating on a real sea.  The sails strained against the wind, just as they had in Solomon’s drawing, and the ship sped away from danger.

All the Jews from the prison rejoiced with Solomon and his father- for they knew they were aboard a ship of miracles, on their way to freedom.  They would never forget that Rosh ha-Shanah when God had seen fit to save them.

-The Balkans: oral tradition.

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11. A Word (or Several) about the Wee Folk Known As Leprechauns

With St. Patrick's Day now upon us, the spotlight is firmly aimed at those mischievous wee folk: the leprechauns. Well, it would be, if they were easy to spot. And to have any hope of spotting them, you have to know where to start looking.


There are two schools of thought regarding the leprechauns' whereabouts: those who believe they're global inhabitants, and those who believe they can only be found on the Emerald Isle itself. (There is also the ever-present skeptical school of thought that refutes the leprechauns' existence entirely. Since I'm not One of Them, let's just ignore that school, shall we?)

Regardless of location, leprechauns are known to be wily, quick-witted, solitary, and none too pleasant. So why would you want to find a leprechaun? Well, legend has it that these Irish fairies are the self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure left behind by Viking raiders who marauded through Ireland eleven centuries ago. To find that well-hidden treasure, you first have to find a leprechaun. No easy feat, that, but rumor has it that you may be able to do it by listening for the sound of his cobbler's hammer.

If you manage to catch one, keep
your eyes glued to the little man. Courtesy and fairy law binds the leprechaun to tell the truth, but only as long as his captor adheres to courtesy, as well: looking the leprechaun straight in the eye, and never looking away. If his captor looks away, even for a fraction of a second, the leprechaun is freed from any obligation, and will vanish.

If you manage to maintain eye contact, there's another wrinkle: though the leprechaun is honor-bound to tell the truth, he has no restrictions against trickery whatsoever. You must have a sharp mind to be able to match wits with a leprechaun if you hope to even get a glimpse of his gold, let alone get your hands on it

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12. Jack and the Beanstalk

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Title: Jack and the Beanstalk

Retold and Illustrated by: Steven Kellogg

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher (April 1997)

Reading Level: 4-8

Theme: Folklore, Fairy tales

Ah, yes, Jack and the beanstalk a well-known story by almost everyone, and like many other fairy tales; there are many different versions to it. And this version is retold in a different way.

As I read Jack and the Beanstalk, I seriously thought Jack was very greedy boy! In some versions, Jack goes up the beanstalk once, but on this story, he goes up again and again. Never satisfied that boy. But nonetheless, a great folkloric tale that will be enjoyed by children. One thing though, I think this one story is retold and illustrated a little darker then the usual ones, so heed my warning, but I hope you pick it up. After all, you can never get bored with a different version to one fairy tale.

Enjoy!

Excerpt: Jack's conversation with a mysterious man

Jack  

                                      Jack and the Beanstalk sound bite



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13. Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale

Red

Title: Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale

Retold and Illustrated by: Lisa Campbell Ernst

Paperback: 40 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (January 2005)

Reading Level: 4-8

Theme: Folklore, Fairy-Tale, humor

 

Little Red Riding Hood on a bike? Say what?!

Yes, we all have heard of Little Red Riding hood, the wolf, the grandmother, and the wolf eating the grandmother. Well, that's usually how it goes, right?

Not on this, Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale, were Red lives in the prairie, grandma is a farmer, and the wolf works for grandma in the end. Yeah, I know... it cracked me up too! A twist to an old tale worth adding to your children folklore collection.

Oh, wait! Did I mention that the hero heroine is grandma? Yeah, you need to check this one out if your fan of Little Red Riding Hood. :)


Enjoy! 


Excerpt:

Red3   

Little red riding hood sound bite



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14. Gecko's Complaint: A Balinese Folktale

Gecko

Title: Gecko's Complaint: A Balinese Folktale

Retold by: Ann Martin Bowler

Illustrated by: I. Gusti Made Sukanada

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Periplus Edition (HK) Ltd (May 2003)

Reading Level: 4-8

Theme: Folktale

 

First of, you might be thinking 'Where is Balines?" or "Oh, wow, I didn't know Balinese existed" Well you're not alone. This is the first time I stumble upon it too so don't worry :). Well I then Google the word and found out that Bali is an Indonesia Island.

Gecko's Compliant is about a Gecko who couldn't sleep at night, until one day, when he couldn't take it anymore, headed to the top of the hill to complaint to Raden, the Jungle Chief whom was also affected by Gecko's complaint. As the chief, he took the proper course of action and tried to solve all the problems that were leading to Gecko's; until he arrived at cloud, that's when he finally realized that complaints are really meaningless when there are more important things in life.

In a way, this story is very similar to situations in our every day life; when the only way to solve one issue is to solve the ones before it. But the ending is what I thought made the biggest impact of all, "Quit your complaining! Go home and live in peace with one another!"

I don't know about you, but that makes sense to me. :)

Enjoy 



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15. So what do we think? The Shadow of the Bear

Review: The Shadow of the Bear: A fairy tale retold

 Doman, Regina.  (2008) The Shadow of the Bear: a fairy tale retold.  Front Royal, VA: Chesterton Press. ISBN #978-0-981-93180-7.  Author recommended age 14+. Litland.com recommends age 14+.  See author website for parent guide to aid you in deciding acceptability for younger readers.  http://www.fairytalenovels.com/docs/Picky%20Parent’s%20guide%20to%20Shadow.pdf

 Our thoughts:

 Modeled after the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Red Rose, this isn’t your Disney princess spoof. Anyone familiar with the real fairy tales of old know they spin morals and virtues contrasted with evil throughout the tapestry of the story. Doman’s book includes the best of this feature without some of the hideous and difficult storyline that traditional fairy tales are known for. 

It is a tale of two sisters named…you’ve got it, Blanche and Rose! The teenagers live with their widowed mother in New York City. Not a simple whodunit at all, the reader is led with suspense through the dark streets, halls and buildings; parties and conversations with the popular kids you know are setting them up for a fall; envy, jealousy, almost-despair, uncertainty. Fear. The description and self-dialogue realistically portray true inner emotions of the two sisters as they face ridicule, bathroom bullying, and school authorities. School-age readers can relate entirely; adult readers are glad to not be in high school anymore.

 Far from the typical one-dimensional view of teen angst given to us in entertainment today, this story is enriched by the affinities and intelligence of its characters. In addition to an occasional Chesterton or Tennyson quote, the description wrapped around their interactions is culturally-rich; thought-provoking wisdom is their normal discourse. Rose’s emotional melt-down in the park, playing her violin in the rushing wind with an impending storm at bay is dramatically told. We can feel her lift “her bow from the strings in the silence of the rushing winds…” after playing that “distant, bold note flying high as a bird to the clouds”.

 Not all is as it appears.

 Good and evil subtly mirror one another throughout the tale. It can be a rough exterior compared to a gentle personality. The rumored drug dealer’s virtuous behaviour compared to the popular, good looking guy using and manipulating all around him. Self-discipline and self-denial vs. hedonism and selfishness. White martyrs and red martyr vs. evildoers.

 A 200-page book should be a quick read. I usually slide right through one. Some books, however, just have more to say. And this book is one of those. Without a word wasted, Doman has given sufficiently rich detail in both the physical and emotional settings that we can feel we are there. We see in our mind solitary Rose playing an ominous tune on her violin in the middle of the park with the same fervor as the wind. From the beginning, the girls imagine that the human exterior merely covers up for a magical interior, and we are then swept through a fast-paced story full of emotion and suspense. Litland.com highly recommends this story for teens and adults. While its content is “clean”, parents should decide if a story line with drug dealers, beer parties, and murder are acceptable for their younger gifted reader. Grade for these schoolgirls? A++!

 (Follow the movie at http://theshadowofthebear.blogspot.com/ ! )

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16. The Cave of Mattathias

This evening is the first night of Hanukkah/Hanukah/Chanukah — and what better way is there to celebrate than with a holiday story? Here is “The Cave of Mattathias,” a tale that originated in Eastern Europe and was passed down in the oral tradition. It is one of many stories included in Howard Schwartz’s Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales. Happy Hanukah!

In a village near the city of Riminov there was a Hasid whose custom it was to bring newly made oil to Reb Menachem Mendel of Riminov, and the rabbi would light the first candle of Hanukah in his presence.

One year the winter was hard, the land covered with snow, and everyone was locked in his home. But when the eve of Hanukah arrived, the Hasid was still planning to deliver the oil. His family pleaded with him not to go, but he was determined, and in the end he set out across the deep snow.

That morning he entered the forest that separated his village from Riminov, and the moment he did, it began to snow. The snow fell so fast that it covered every landmark, and when at last it stopped, the Hasid found that he was lost. The whole world was covered with snow.

Now the Hasid began to regret not listening to his family. Surely the rabbi would have forgiven his absence. Meanwhile, it had become so cold that he began to fear he might freeze. He realized that if he were to die there in the forest, he might not even be taken to a Jewish grave. That is when he remembered the oil he was carrying. In order to save his life, he would have to use it. There was no other choice.

As quickly as his numb fingers could move, he tore some of the lining out of his coat and fashioned it into a wick, and he put that wick into the snow. Then he poured oil on it and prayed with great intensity. Finally, he lit the first candle of Hanukah, and the flame seemed to light up the whole forest. And all the wolves moving through the forest saw that light and ran back to their hiding places.

After this the exhausted Hasid lay down on the snow and fell asleep. He dreamed he was walking in a warm land, and before him he saw a great mountain, and next to that mountain stood a palm tree. At the foot of the mountain was the opening of a cave. In the dream, the Hasid entered the cave and found a candle burning there. He picked up that candle, and it lit the way for him until he came to a large cavern, where an old man with a very long beard was seated. There was a sword on his thigh, and his hands were busy making wicks. All of that cavern was piled high with bales of wicks. The old man looked up when the Hasid entered and said: “Blessed be you in the Name of God.”

The Hasid returned the old man’s blessing and asked him who he was. He answered: “I am Mattathias, father of the Maccabees. During my lifetime I lit a big torch. I hoped that all of Israel would join me, but only a few obeyed my call. Now heaven has sent me to watch for the little candles in the houses of Israel to come together to form a very big flame. And that flame will announce the Redemption and the End of Days.

“Meanwhile, I prepare the wicks for the day when everyone will contribute his candle to this great flame. And now, there is something that you must do for me. When you reach the Rabbi of Riminov, tell him that the wicks are ready, and he should do whatever he can to light the flame that we have awaited so long.”

Amazed at all he had heard, the Hasid promised to give the message to the rabbi. As he turned to leave the cave, he awoke and found himself standing in front of the rabbi’s house. Just then the rabbi himself opened the door, and his face was glowing. He said: “The power of lighting the Hanukah candles is very great. Whoever dedicates his soul to this deed brings the time

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17. So what do we think? Black as Night: A fairy tale retold

See character review at www.litland.com ages 14+

 Doman, Regina. (2007) Black as Night: a fairy tale retold. Front Royal, VA: Chesterton Press. ISBN #978-0-9819-3182-1. Author recommends teens and adults. Litland.com recommends ages 15+. 

Publisher’s Description:   Blanche Brier entirely on her own this summer in New York City while Bear is wandering through Europe and her family is on vacation. Blanche is fast becoming the focus of a terrifying play of evil forces. Even the refuge she takes among some lively Franciscan friars does not protect her from dangerous attacks. Rather, they continue to escalate as she struggles to persuade a sick and aged man from killing himself. Discovering Blanche’s disappearance, Bear and Fish cut short their European vacation and join up with Rose to begin scouring New York City looking for Blanche. But the same malevolence that is lurking over Blanche seems to be hunting them as well and drawing them all togther into a death trap until it seems that all hope is gone. Yet during this time, the desires of Blanche’s heart are being clarified – and so are Bear’s.

A black night. Tested faith. Honest love.

 Our thoughts:

 I’ve read the first book in the series three times over the past dozen years and always enjoyed it. But I was pleased to finally get around to reading book 2. And wow! It immediately takes the reader into an assault and robbery of a girl on a train with subsequent chase through early morning New York until, just in the nick of time of course, she finds sanctuary… in a sanctuary. It reminds me of how Catholic churches were sanctuaries in the middle ages, and those being victimized could run through its doors declaring “sanctuary”, and be kept safe from harm. The learned or well-read mind automatically makes this connection, giving the story even more of a historical or fairy tale feel to it. Thanks to Doman’s almost poetic writing, the scene is far beyond normal. “The church stood a silent soldier against the slow destruction of the night.”

 Slowly we are introduced to the characters both new and old. We know from book 1 they were bright, well-read, and funny in an intellectual way. Now the portrait of each is filled in with greater depth. Those familiar with book 1 wonder why Blanche isn’t telling these monks her history with “their church”. Doman’s style takes us in-and-out of past conversations, transitioning between past and present, moving between sets of characters so slowly we begin to understand the current situation that Blanche, Bear and Fish find themselves in.

 In the process, we are given glimpses into how Bear and Blanche’s relationship grew into that awkward point where they try to decide if they will continue into the future together. Thus simultaneously we have the suspense of the mystery along with the agony of a relationship in limbo. Very unsettling, which makes for a book you cannot put down…

 Just like the best written of mysteries, we have important characters come in and out of a scene, so watch not to miss them. Like the bag lady in black…what is she up to?

This story’s underlying theme of discernment doesn’t just pertain to Bear trying to discern his vocation in life. Blanche can discern she is in danger, being followed, her belongings rifled through. Brother Leon discerns the feeli

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18. Yeats, faeries, and the Irish occult tradition

W. B. Yeats is usually seen as a great innovator who put his stamp so decisively on modern Irish literature that most of his successors worked in his shadow. R. F. Foster's new book, Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances, weaves together literature and history to present an alternative perspective.

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19. Cybils Review: Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas

This striking book takes a very interesting approach to the subject of hummingbirds (which, incidentally, make up the second-largest group of birds in the Americas.) It combines factual information with folktales. And quilts! When I first held this book in my hand, I felt like I was looking at one of those trick pictures with two images. When you look at the picture above, what do you see first

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20. So what do we think? The Wild West: 365 days

 

 The Wild West: 365 days

 

 Wallis, Michael. (2011) The Wild West: 365 days. New York, NY: Abrams Press. ISBN 978-0810996892 All ages.

 Publisher’s description: The Wild West: 365 Days is a day-by-day adventure that tells the stories of pioneers and cowboys, gold rushes and saloon shoot-outs in America’s frontier. The lure of land rich in minerals, fertile for farming, and plentiful with buffalo bred an all-out obsession with heading westward. The Wild West: 365 Days takes the reader back to these booming frontier towns that became the stuff of American legend, breeding characters such as Butch Cassidy and Jesse James. Author Michael Wallis spins a colorful narrative, separating myth from fact, in 365 vignettes. The reader will learn the stories of Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, and Annie Oakley; travel to the O.K. Corral and Dodge City; ride with the Pony Express; and witness the invention of the Colt revolver. The images are drawn from Robert G. McCubbin’s extensive collection of Western memorabilia, encompassing rare books, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts, including Billy the Kid’s knife.

 Our thoughts:

 This is one of the neatest books I’ve seen in a long time. The entire family will love it. Keep it on the coffee table but don’t let it gather dust!

 Every page is a look back into history with a well-known cowboy, pioneer, outlaw, native American or other adventurer tale complete with numerous authentic art and photo reproductions. The book is worth owning just for the original pictures.  But there is more…an index of its contents for easy reference too! Not only is this fun for the family, it is excellent for the school or home classroom use too. A really fun way to study the 19th century too and also well received as a gift.  I highly recommend this captivating collection! See for yourself at the Litland.com Bookstore.

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21. So what do we think? Just Fine the Way They Are

Just fine the way they are

Just Fine the Way They Are

Nordhielm Wooldridge, Connie. (2011) Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek of Boyds Mill Press. ISBN 978-1-59078-710-6. (26 pgs) Author recommends grades 4-6; Litland adds excellent for younger advanced readers.

 Publisher’s Description: Change. Who needs it? We do! Mr. John Slack, the keeper of a tavern beside a rutted dirt road in the early 1800s, thought things were just fine the way they were. So did Lucius Stockton who ran the National Road Stage Company in the mid 1800s. So too, did the owners of the railroads when the first model T appeared in 1908. Yet with each new innovation, Americans were able to move around the country more quickly, efficiently, and comfortably. Connie Woolbridge offers an informative, yet light-hearted look at how the dirt roads of the early 1800s evolved into the present-day U.S. highway system. Richard Walz’s gorgeous paintings capture both the broad sweep and the individual impact of change and progress.

 Our thoughts:

 What a great overview of American history focused on transportation! Told in a folky style, the narrator’s storytelling voice reminds us of sitting on the front porch and listening to elders of the family recount the same stories over and over again. And even though we already knew the story, we enjoyed hearing it once more. Only for 8-11 year olds, these stories will be new :>)

 Just Fine the Way They Are has lots of potential uses:

 * reluctant readers, particularly boys, will find an easy and entertaining style holding their attention.

* a discussion tool for talking about feelings or conflict, making it great for family book clubs or class discussions.

* illustrations are brilliantly eye-catching—I was sitting in a diner reading this, and the waitress walked over saying “What a cute book!”. As such, it would surely keep the students’ attention if read to the class, whether reading to a traditional classroom or homeschool kids around the dining table.

* While intended for 4th, 5th & 6th grades, it also would be great for accelerated students writing their first book report.

 An added touch: it comes complete with a historic timeline, bibliography, and list of relevant websites. Plus the author (a former elementary school librarian) has lesson plans on her website too (see http://conniewooldridge.com/ )!  This is one of those unique books that provide diversity on the bookshelf, catching the eye of the reader looking for something a bit different, and being enjoyed many times over :>) Pick up a copy at our Litland.com Bookstore!

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22. BOOK OF THE DAY: February 2012 List

BOOK OF THE DAY-February

No need to wait until the end of February for the complete list. Here it is–plan ahead! Click on the link above, and also follows us on Facebook at Litland Reviews http://facebook.com/Litlandreviews

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23. BOOK OF THE DAY: The January list!

BOOK OF THE DAY-January

Here it is! The book of the day challenge, to recommend a new book or related media every day in 2012. January is complete, and attached for handy download–just click on the above link. February is on the way! “Friend” Litland Reviews on Facebook to see daily recommendations as they post. http://facebook.com/Litlandreviews

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24. Johnny Appleseed Day Will Be Here Soon...Or Not So Soon

Rejoice, apple aficionados, for Johnny Appleseed Day approacheth soon...or maybe not for a while yet. See, some list this holiday's date as September 26th, on account of that's the birthdate, circa 1774, of one John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed.

But, there are others who insist that Johnny Appleseed Day is instead celebrated on March 11th, on account of that's the date of his exit from this world. However, since his death date was never formally recorded, there is some dispute as to its accuracy, as some place his death date at March 18. Sources do agree, though, on his death year: 1845.

I say we celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day here at Bugs and Bunnies on March 11, for two reasons. One: it gives me something to write about this week. And two: the apples Johnny is said to have planted in his travels all those years ago were of the tart green variety (known as Rambo, for the inquisitive among us).

So, green apples; along with March being the month where Spring comes into its own, and all the plant shoots are coming up a lovely young green; along with March being the month of St. Patrick's Day, which is known for lots and lots of green with its shamrocks and wee folk and connection with Ireland and all...well, isn't the March date kind of a no-brainer?

It is for me, so let's begin:

Most folks know the general story of Johnny Appleseed, so how about we talk about some of the lesser-known stuff? (If you are not all that familiar with Mr. John Chapman, who literally became a legend in his own time, then clicking on any of the sources listed at the end of this article will catch you up nicely.)

Here are some interesting Johnny Appleseed tidbits I came across in my research:
  • From the time he set out on his apple-tree-planting journey, John Chapman, who was by 1806 known as "Johnny Appleseed," remained a wanderer the rest of his life. 
  • Johnny first got his apple seeds from cider mills as he passed through eastern Pennsylvania. The mills gave away the seeds for free, as they were considered leftovers from the apple crushing process. 
  • Johnny was a vegetarian, favored sleeping outdoors, and avoided to

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25. William John Thoms, The Man Who Invented The Word Folklore

anatoly.jpg

By Anatoly Liberman

All words must have been coined by individuals. This statement surprises and embarrasses not only the uninitiated but also some language historians. We are used to thinking that “people” created ancient language and art, but what is people? (This question, though in another guise, will recur below.) A group of activists working together and producing in chorus meaningful sound complexes like big ~ bag ~ bug ~ bog? Or a committee like those on which we sit, organs of collective wisdom? As a rule, every novelty that does not die “without issue” passes through a predictable cycle: someone has something to offer, a small group of enthusiasts surrounding the inventor adopts it, more adherents show their support, the novelty becomes common property, and (not necessarily) the originator is forgotten. We have no way of tracing the beginning of the oldest words, and even some neologisms remain etymological puzzles, but the names of some “wordsmiths” have not been lost. For instance, Lilliputian was coined by Jonathan Swift, gas by J.B. van Helmont, and jeep (which later became Jeep) by E.C. Segar. As a rule, inventors use the material at hand. Swift seems to have combined lil, the colloquial pronunciation of little and put(t) “blockhead,” a slang word common in the 18th century. Van Helmont was probably inspired by the Dutch pronunciation of chaos. Jeep is sound imitative, like peep. In similar fashion, we have no doubt about the structure of the noun folklore (folk + lore), but the story of its emergence is worth telling.

William John Thoms (1802-1885) began his literary career as an expert editor of old tales and prose romances. He also investigated customs and superstitions. Especially interesting are his studies of popular lore in Shakespeare: elves, fairies, Puck, Queen Mab, and others. They were published in the forties, the decade in which he met his star hour. Special works on Thoms are extremely few (the main one dates to 1946), and the archival documents pertaining to him remain untapped, but he related some events of his life himself. It was not by chance that California Folklore Quarterly printed an article about him (“’Folklore’: William John Thoms” by Duncan Emrich, volume 5, pp. 155-374) in 1946. A hundred years earlier a letter signed by Ambrose Merton appeared in the London-based journal The Athenaeum. Those who have leafed through its huge folio volumes probably could not help wondering how the subscribers managed to find their way through such an enormous mass of heterogeneous materials. Yet that weekly had a devoted readership, and its voice reached far.

The 1846 letter is available in two modern anthologies, but outside the professional circle of folklorists hardly anyone has read it, so that I will quote its beginning and end. “Your pages have so often given evidence of the interest which you take in what we in England designate as Popular Antiquities, or Popular Literature (though by-the-by it is more a Lore than a literature, and would be most aptly described by a good Saxon compound, Folklore,—the Lore of the People)—that I am not without hopes of enlisting your aid in garnering the few ears which are remaining, scattered over that field from which our forefathers might have gathered a goodly crop. No one who has made the manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc., of the olden time his study, but must have arrived at two conclusions:—the first how much that is curious and interesting in those matters is now entirely lost—the second, how much may yet be rescued by timely exertion…. It is only honest that I should tell you I have long been contemplating a work upon our “Folklore” (under that title, mind Messes. A, B, and C,—so do not try to forestall me);—and I am personally interested in the success of the experiment which I have, in this letter, albeit imperfectly, urged you to undertake.” Not only did the editor of The Athenaeum welcome the letter. He opened a special rubric for “folk-lore,” and “Ambrose Merton” (this was Thoms of course) became its editor.

The letter was followed by an injunction, part of which is so much to the point that it must be reproduced here: “We have taken some time to weigh the suggestion of our correspondent—desirous to satisfy ourselves that any good of the kind which he proposes could be effected in such space as we are able to spare from the many other demands upon our columns; and have before our eyes the fear of that shower of trivial communication which a notice in conformity with his suggestion is likely to bring. We have finally decided that, if our antiquarian correspondents be earnest and well-informed and subject their communications to the condition of having something to communicate, we may… be the means of effecting some valuable salvage for the future historian of old customs and feelings…. With these views, however, we must announce to our future contributors under the above head, that their communications will be subjected to a careful sifting—both as regards value, authenticity, and novelty; and that they will save both themselves and us much unnecessary trouble if they will refrain from offering any facts and speculations which at once need recording and deserve it.”

Thoms may have regretted the fact that he wrote his letter to The Athenaeum under a pseudonym, for a year later, in another letter to the same journal, he disclosed his identity. He more than once reminded his readers that it was he who launched the word folklore. From time to time somebody would derive folklore from German or Danish. As long as he lived, Thoms kept refuting such unworthy rumors (he also suffered from the neglect of his Shakespeare scholarship); after his death others defended him. The word found acceptance both in the English speaking world and abroad. German, Austrian, and Swiss scholars eventually borrowed it with its original spelling (Folklore), though the German for folk is Volk. By the end of the eighties folklore had become an accepted term in Scandinavia, as well as in the Romance and Slavic speaking countries. The British Folklore Society, which was also formed largely thanks to Thoms’s efforts, adopted the title Folk-Lore Record for its journal (now it is called simply Folklore), and Thoms was elected the Society’s director. In the introduction to the first volume he noted, perhaps not without a touch of irony, that the word he had coined would make him better known than the rest of his professional activities.

As we have seen, the “Saxon” term folklore was applied to the vanishing “manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc.” Thoms did not realize how ambiguous his agenda was. For more than 150 years, researchers have been arguing over whether the subject of folklore is only “survivals” (does modern folklore exist?), who are the people, the “folk” to be approached, and whether folklore is the name of the treasures to be collected and described or of the science (“the lore”) devoted to them. Today folklore is often understood as a study of verbal art, but not less often it passes off as a branch of cultural anthropology. In 1846 folk meant “peasantry,” which excluded urban culture. One also spoke vaguely of common people, of story tellers nearly untouched by the advance of civilization, and of the working people in the “byeways of England” (the phrase, spelling and all, is from The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1885). Railways were the main bugaboo of those who watched the rural landscape disappear under the wheels of the devil, the steam engine. Being run over by a train became a literary motif.

In 1849 an event of great importance happened in Thoms’s life: he began publishing his own weekly that, after rejecting many titles and ignoring the advice of some well-wishers, he decided to call Notes and Queries. His old appeal to the readers to send ballads, tales, proverbs, descriptions of customs, and so forth brought many responses, and Thoms was loath to start a rival periodical, for fear of undermining The Athenaeum, but he received the editor’s blessing. The new journal turned into a main forum for letters that Thoms had invited correspondents to send to The Athenaeum. The rubric on “folk-lore” in both periodicals made the term familiar, and later the derivatives (folklorist and folkloric) emerged. Before resigning as editor, Thoms told the story of his magazine in a series of short essays and published them in Notes and Queries for 1871 and 1872. In 1848 Dombey and Son appeared. One of the novel’s most endearing characters is the one-armed Captain Cuttle. Like so many other personages brought to life by Dickens, the good captain has a tag: he likes to repeat the maxim “When found, make a note of.” Thoms used this catchphrase as a motto for his journal, and it was printed on the title page of each issue.

I have already written about the value and the worldwide success of Notes and Queries. This magazine is one of a kind. Personally, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to it, for suggestions on word origins were (and still are) common in Notes and Queries, and I have nearly 8000 of them in my database. Some words have been discussed only in its pages, and some first-rate specialists sought no better exposure of their ideas. The man who invented the word folklore and founded Notes and Queries deserves to be remembered, and I am sorry that no one has written a book about him. The reason may be that he was neither a professor nor a madman. Perfectly sane and of humble origin, he was survived by his wife and nine children.


Anatoly_libermanAnatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to blog.us@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”

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