Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Story Finders by Sharon Barcan Elswit

The Jewish Story Finder: A Guide to 363 Tales Listing Subjects and Sources East Asian Story Finder: A Guide to Tales from China, Japan and Korea, Listing Subjects and Sources

I discovered these books at the publisher's (McFarland) vendor table at the American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in October. I received the books as review copies and wanted to share them as two great resources to start the new school semester, term, whatever term applies to those of you in the education system as student or professor.

The Jewish Story Finder: A Guide to 363 Tales Listing Subjects and Sources by Sharon Barcan Elswit

Book description from the publisher:

A subject guide to hundreds of Jewish stories, this book's purpose is to help teachers, rabbis, librarians, folklorists, parents, and storytellers find the right story to match their need. It also will lead educators to a wealth of Jewish stories on universal themes for use in multicultural programs for all ages. The stories are numbered for easy reference and grouped in broad categories--for example, God, faith, and prayer; rabbinic wit and wisdom; tricksters and fools; festivals and holidays. For each story, a list of tellings (author and book title) provides numerous options for the story seeker, and a list of keywords connects the story subject categories. Two cross-referenced indexes make locating stories easy, whether by subject keywords or by title. An appendix lists recommended stories for children of different ages, from lower elementary through middle school. The bibliography of almost 200 story collections and picture-book tales gives the information needed to locate a source for every story in the book.
Here's the table of contents:

Acknowledgments vii
Foreword (Peninnah Schram) 1
Preface 5

I. God, Faith, and Prayer 11
II. The Torah, the Talmud and Their Study 26
III. Biblical Characters and Events 35
IV. Quests for Sacred Objects and Holy Encounters in Later Times 58
V. Rabbis: Wit and Wisdom 76
VI. Wonder Weavers: Tales of Magic 88
VII. Angels, Demons, Spirits, Gilguls, Dybbuks, and Golems: The Supernatural 115
VIII. Talking Animal Tales and Fables 138
IX. Tricksters and Fools 148
X. Human Stories 175
XI. Tales for Festivals and Holidays 199

Appendix: Story Recommendations for All Ages 239
Bibliography 243
Story Title Index 249
Subject Index 259

East Asian Story Finder: A Guide to Tales from China, Japan and Korea, Listing Subjects and Sources by Sharon Barcan Elswit

Book description from the publisher:

A reference guide to 468 stories and folktales from China, Japan, and Korea, this book aims to lead storytellers, folklorists, teachers, and librarians to both popular and lesser-known East Asian stories. Selected for their multicultural appeal to listeners and readers, the stories are divided cross-culturally into broad subject categories, from tales of supernatural love and devotion to stories dealing with Tengu, Tokkaebi, and other mystical creatures.

Table of contents:

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1

I. Kindness Rewarded and Lessons Learned 11
II. Cherishing the Earth and All Living Things 28
III. Of Wonders, Magical Objects, and Enchantment 45
IV. Supernatural Loves 73
V. Devotion 91
VI. Strange Events and Ghostly Encounters 108
VII. The Power of Dreams 126
VIII. Supernatural Creatures: Tangling with Tengu, Tokkaebi, Yamaubas, Kappa, Ogres 133
IX. The Heroes: There Is No Danger Which These Women and Men Will Not Brave for the Good of All 150
X. Propitious Births and Extraordinary Children 162
XI. Animal Fables 172
XII. Tricksters and Fools 185
XIII. The Way Things Are 204
XIV. The Problem Solvers 225

Appendix A: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese Stories Listed by Country 237
Appendix B: Glossary 248
Bibliography 251
Story Title Index 261
Subject Index 271

Both of these books are great resources, especially for educators, storytellers and those interested in the areas in folklore. Both resources offered tales and sources I was unaware of but also many that I was familiar with despite both of these areas being some of my weaker personal knowledge bases in folklore. Many of the sources books are older and available on the internet with efficient text searching. I always appreciate books that summarize tales as these do. Elswit also provides a helpful subject index to help find similar topics and themes. The Jewish collection won some awards and the Asian collection is just as excellent. The emphasis is on tales and versions suitable for all ages, including children. Overall, highly recommended.

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