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Wisdom Tales from Around the World

August House Publishers, 1996


Contains fifty gems of story and wisdom from such diverse traditions as Sufi, Zen, Taoist, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, African and Native American. Retold for ages 10 to adult. Extensive annotated bibliography and reference notes.


The folktales and parables in this collection were selected with a global perspective by professional storyteller Heather Forest. Comprised of ancient plots both poingant and comical, this anthology contains simple truths, common sense, and the promise that we can benefit from past generations' experiences.(Softcover)


By metaphorically suggesting constructive stategies for living, these ancient tales resonate with a universal appeal. They can be simply enjoyed for their drama or more deeply considered for their subtleties. 1997 Storytelling World Anthology Award



From Publishers Weekly

Storytelling of a more uplifting nature is offered in Wisdom Tales from Around the World by Heather Forest. Culled from such diverse traditions as Taoist parables, the Panchatantra of ancient India, the Bible and European folktales, the 50 entries, says Forest in an introduction, "pass down homespun wisdom encased in stories." The tales are often no more than a few paragraphs in length, and rarely more than two or three pages.


From School Library Journal

YA. Forest retells folktales, proverbs, and parables in a thoughtful and satisfying style that amuses as it deftly imparts lessons for living. While the stories are often universal, they reflect their cultural and religious roots. The explanatory notes for each section and tale add insights for better understanding. There are times when keeping one's mouth shut can literally save one's life, as in "The Talkative Turtle." "A Flock of Birds" tells what happens when we fail to cooperate with others. "How War Was Ended" is an inspirational peace tale. This collection is too good to sit on the 398.2 shelves. It contains sources and has applications for classes in creative writing, multicultural studies, sociology, ethics, world civilizations, and for Sunday School. Although the format and cover seem geared to younger readers, the subtlety in many of the stories is right for YAs. They will see that under the seemingly simple surfaces of the tales lie deeper layers to plumb.

Judy Sokoll, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA


From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Arranged roughly by country or region of origin or by religious tradition, this collection of 50 brief stories contains fables, parables, and folktales. The stories have the polished feel of the oral storytelling tradition and resound with lessons learned from common sense and experience. Readers will find some of the tales and protagonists new; others will be familiar. But either way, the situational humor, the use of animal characters, and the breadth of cultures represented are bound to please. Source notes are provided. Karen Morgan --


From Kirkus Reviews

As a companion to Wonder Tales from Around the World (1995, not reviewed), this is Forest's recasting of 50 fables, myths, anecdotes, and parables, all inviting readers to enjoy them as stories while picking out their barely concealed kernels of wisdom. Grouped by cultural or religious tradition, the selections comprise tales as familiar as ``The Three Wishes'' and the story of the Prodigal Son, and as unfamiliar as the legend, heard from a Yup'ik storyteller, of Apanugpak, a mighty warrior who laid down his weapons. Some are linked to historical events, and many have exotic settings, but Forest writes in such a simple, direct way that even readers not acquainted with the stories' contexts will grasp the particulars. She uses specific names or terms sparingly and livens the prose with occasional apt, clever rhymes. Two pages of proverbs (``the essence of wisdom tales without the storyline'') and a section of analytical and source notes close out this readable, often funny, and consistently thought-provoking collection. (notes, bibliography) (Folklore. 10+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP.