Drawn from a comprehensive list of sources given in a concluding bibliography, 16 stories about a black folk hero with a...

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THE ADVENTURES OF HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR

Drawn from a comprehensive list of sources given in a concluding bibliography, 16 stories about a black folk hero with a genius for outwitting his master. Slaves and their descendants shared stories about Brer Rabbit with whites, but kept the more obvious rebellion of High John to themselves until recently: as they expressed it in song, ""Got one mind for the boss to see. Got another mind for what I know is me."" Even so, the anger in these trickster tales is usually coupled with humor; as Sanfield says in introducing ""John Wins a Bet,"" ""Laughter is strong medicine. . .It takes a great people. . .to be able to laugh at themselves, especially in times of terrible adversity--but those who do usually manage to survive."" Significantly, John finally wins his freedom by tricking a cruel new master into laughing at him. To anyone who has heard Julius Lester tell these tales, the present versions will seem a little tame, but--as Sanfield explains--authentic versions of the tales are often ""so bawdy as to make their inclusion impossible."" Still, this collection makes an admirable introduction, for children, to a lively rascal--""that hope-bringer, that will-to-dream""--well worth knowing. In addition to the fine bibliography, there are an excellent introduction and other explanatory notes.

Pub Date: March 1, 1988

ISBN: 087483774X

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Watts

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988