THE LAST TALES OF UNCLE REMUS by Julius -- Adapt. Lester
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The fourth volume of a landmark retelling completes the roster, with Lester's witty contemporary voice (""I reckon I should push the pause button on this story 'cause you want to know how the axe could see her coming,"" or, ""she did the laundry and...the colored clothes stood up and started singing a commercial"") still serving the original tales' subversive humor with splendid originality. In a quiet, well-reasoned introductory essay on why he kept the name ""Uncle Remus,"" Lester points out that ""without the distinctive voice of the narrator, the stories would not have endured,"" though, ironically, ""Harris's Uncle Remus also represents...the servile 'darky.'"" Still, ""this should not blind us to his contribution or cause us to withdraw respect from him. Each of us is as complex and contradictory, and that is the beauty of being human."" Some of the 39 stories here are less familiar than those in the earlier volumes, but no less entertaining when rendered in Lester's companionable style (from delightful description -- ""He ran away from there so fast, his shadow had to hitchhike home"" -- to sharp commentary -- ""When a man looks at the world through hungry eyes, everything looks good to eat""; quoting is seductive). Again, variants of other tales (e.g., Richard Chase's) make for interesting contrasts, and Pinkney provides several handsome color spreads (seen), plus dozens of drawings (not seen). Essential.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dial