Paying tribute to his own heritage in this collection of ten African plus two Jewish stories, Lester states that being American is also significant: his tellings are ""fitted. . .to my mouth and tongue."" His admirably careful, specific notes tell just what he has changed, and why. A bibliography of his sources is included. The stories themselves are told in the beautifully cadenced, deceptively colloquial, witty style that is Lester's trademark (""Elephant ['s]. . .trunk was ten years long, his ears were as big as a thunderstorm and his feet were bigger than a broken heart""). Powerful stories full of subtle meanings, including several that are as brief as two or three pages, make this a storyteller's treasure trove. Shannon makes an outstanding contribution to the handsome format with his monumental, richly imaginative, beautifully designed paintings--leopard and crocodile mirrored in a still jungle pool, a terrifying monster mountain, the ""ugly"" man whose ""soul was beautiful in its purity."" Indispensable.