Tall Tales and Tricksters from Asia

Tall Tales and Tricksters from Asia  retold by Cathy Spagnoli

Kantjil and Tiger

Judge Rabbit Helps the Fish

Thao Kam, The Pebble Shooter

The Greedy Crows

Oni Wa Soto

Tall Tales and Tricksters from Asia, published by The Wright Group 1995, is a series of folk tales collected, and retold by professional storyteller Cathy Spagnoli. Spagnoli has recreated these tales in a form that is sure to delight young readers and storytellers alike. Her skilled voice is present in the arrangement in the the emphasis, in the deliberate phrasing that makes the stories work when told aloud, but she has wisely allowed the story itself to sing the melody line. As a result each story has its own voice.

These tales are ideally suited to school, library and multicultural settings.  Spagnoli's expert handling of the material allows even novice storytellers an opportunity to shine. The manageable length will add to their appeal for young audiences.

Each of the illustrators brings to the work detail that complements the narrative and provides additional cultural information, while striking a fine balance between text and artwork.

All of the books are softcover and in . full colour . A map of Asia inside the front  cover highlights the featured country,  while the back cover includes notes on the the author and illustrator, background information on the story and country of  origin, and, where necessary, pronunciation guide

Kantjil and Tiger, A Tale from Indonesia illustrated by Fabricio Yanden Broeck. ISBN-7802-1474-9 32 P $5.85   Available from

In Indonesian and Malaysian folklore, Kantjil, the mouse deer, is a favourite trickster character, while the tiger is popularly regarded as a foolish beast, always outwitted by the smaller creatures.

Judge Rabbit Helps the Fish, A Tale from Cambodia illustrated by Kat Thacker. ISBN 0-7802-1476-5 32 P $5.85  Available from

A hungry jackal is fooled by the fish, his intended dinner. When he calls the other animals to help him, the fish appeal to Judge Rabbit, a popular Cambodian character known for his wisdom in

judging others and righting wrongs.

Thao Kam, The Pebble Shooter, A Tale From Laos illustrated by Chi Chung. ISBN 0-7802-1480-3 32 P $5.85  Available from

Although this story, too, involves a trick, it is noteworthy because the physically challenged boy at

the heart of the tale triumphs over adversity.

The Greedy Crows, A Tale from Northern India illustrated by Omar Rayyan. ISBN 0-7802-1482-X 32 P $5.85  Available from

The peacock, India's national bird, teaches a lesson to some greedy crows.

Oni Wa Soto, A Tale from Japan illustrated by Yoshi Miyake. ISBN 0-78021478-1 32 P $5.85  Available from

An oni is a frightening ogre-like creature found in Japanese folklore. This tall tale explains the origins of Setsubun, a traditional holiday that falls in early February. Oni Wa Soto includes a number of details that create a rich texture. From the opening Mukashi, mukashi, the equivalent of long, long ago", through choko, choko and paku, paku, classic sound words that have very specific meanings, we are drawn into the tale and its telling.

These books may be purchased singly, or as a set from The Wright Group, 19201 120th Avenue, NE, Bothell, Washington


- reviewed by Mary Baldasaro

The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 1, March 1996

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