10 January 2012

9 January 2011–Tall Great American Folktales


Image Courtesy Stone Arch Books

Written and Illustrated by: Various Edited by Donnie Lemke
Stone Arch Books, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4342-4068-2 (Trade Paperback)
$12.95 Ages: 6 - 9

 Tall Great American Folktales collects four of the most popular tales of Americana into a new, fun collection from Stone Arch. Originally published individually, Tall Great American Folktales collects the stories of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Johnny Appleseed. Each tale has an afterward regarding the subject, from a basic revisit of Bunyan’s haunts to a discussion of the historical factuality of John Henry.
As with the vast majority of Stone Arch Books, it’s obvious that the artists and writers really, really enjoy what they’re doing. Each tale really reflects the disposition of the title characters – Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill both have active, rip-snorting adventures, while John Henry’s tale is quiet (and powerful), and Johnny Appleseed’s story is like a long, slow, enjoyable walk with an old friend. Each artist really nails their subject, infusing a real sense of humanity into their characters, and the writing dovetails quite nicely, capturing not only the flavor, but the cadence of the oral tradition.
Final Thoughts
I’ve always been a big fan of American Folklore, and this is a welcome addition to that canon. In fact, there really needs to be more books on American Folklore in general. Lemke has done a fantastic job of putting this collection together, my only complaint is that they didn’t include a glossary or list of websites to consult for more information. As is, Tall Great American Tales is a great introduction to American Folklore.

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