Eleven Nature Tales

Eleven Nature Tales: A Multicultural Journey by Pleasant DeSpain . Little Rock, Arkansas: August House, 1996 ISBN 0-87483-447-3$14.95 91pp.

We have come to expect the best :from August House, and this collection by acclaimed teller Pleasant DeSpain continues that tradition. To start, the book is physically attractive. It has a bright colourful cover, and the black and white, and black and white scratchboard illustrations by Joe Schlichta capture the animal characters and the cultures from which they come. The size of type and amount of white space makes the book inviting to young readers, but the author's skill makes the stories of interest to all ages. DeSpain has a gift for cutting to the quick of a story. In his retellings, the heart of the tales is clearly evident, and the tales themselves are simply related. The result is pure magic.

These ancient stories from around the world are about nature: its wonders, warnings, and lessons. The collection starts with a delightful tale from Africa about the interrelation of life tried the story on a grade 5/6 class , and found that it tells just as well as it reads. I'm sure that will be true of all of the other stories as well.

Some give explanations as they teach us. In Sun Catcher, we learn why mouse has short hair on her back,. and also see that the small can succeed where the big fail There are wisdoms big and small in the stories, all told in a way that reflects the years of oral polishing. As delightful as the stories are to read, they can out to be told, and their lessons need to be heard-. I have for years used DeSpain's books in workshops for beginning tellers. This book, too, is highly recommended for tellers, and for independent readers.

The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 2, Sep 1996
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