A sequel to last year's Best-Loved Stories that, again, is a literary record of oral tellings that have taken place at the national festival, held annually since 1973. The 39 pieces represented here come from a rainbow of places, including Japan, Norway, Israel, Vietnam, and Persia; and from a number of indigenous cultures—African-American, Native American, and southern, etc. All the tales include concise, useful comments about origins, and most are told simply, usually incorporating a kind of moral or folk-culture epiphany: ``The Boy with a Keg,'' for instance, told by Carol L. Birch, is the story of a boy who meets God, the devil, and Death. The piece, in which the boy barters with Death, is not as richly textured as the best-known tales of Grimm, but it uses a strong plot and folk wisdom to entertain and amuse. ``The Calico Coffin,'' an Appalachian tale told by Lee Pennington, is more gothic, a take on the story Poe loved so much about a beautiful young woman who is unknowingly buried alive. Some tales, such as John Basinger's ``Chester Behnke Goes Hunting,'' use characters who are alter egos of the teller and whom the teller often reuses. Others, such as Luisah Teish's ``The Legend of Obi Gui Gui,'' based on a Yoruba tale from Nigeria that explains why coconuts fall from trees, allow us to experience tribal reality as filtered through the mind of an oral folklorist. Once again, a robust and entertaining collection. Most of the tales are suitable for adults and children alike, and a number would make good bedtime reading.
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