In a beautifully produced collaboration between an eminent author and artist, a splendid new retelling of these unquenchable tales--controversial as they have been, they defy attempts to suppress them, like the ebullient trickster himself. In a foreword, Lester explains his decision to omit the narrator, Uncle Remus (a realistic depiction of the ""faithful darky"" who became a negative stereotype), using instead an adaptation of his own voice-"" . . .a modified contemporary southern black English, which is a combination of standard English,"" He honors folk-tale tradition not by preserving the ""original"" intact but by allowing it to grow within his style and in the present; thus, his interpolations of contemporary notions (Bret Bear going for welfare because his family's too big to support; the undesirable Bret Tiger moving in and lowering property values) are not anachronistic travesities; rather, they are delightful incongruities that make the stories more immediate. This collection includes 48 stories; the projected second volume will add 37. Lester has achieved his goal of a style appropriate for either reading or oral presentation; it's hard to imagine better stories for sharing than these brief tales, with humor in almost every line plus a wealth of twists and surprises. Pinkney's occasional soft pencil drawings are just right to prompt the visual imagination; three double-spread watercolors bring the rural world to glowing life. In a nice touch, Uncle Remus makes his only appearance in a frontispiece, not with Harris' little white boy but with Bret Rabbit. Augusta Baker, herself a grand teller of these stories, contributes a fine introduction that places them in context. Every library should have a copy of this comic celebration of the indomitable spirit that is part of the black heritage.