In this much-expanded version of a 1992 collection, two veteran storytellers present tales that were being told in the Americas, North Africa and on the Iberian Peninsula the day Christopher Columbus made landfall.
Probably, that is. As their conscientious source notes indicate, the 50-plus short myths, legends, anecdotes and animal tales (up from 20 in Stories from the Days of Christopher Columbus) were all gathered from later collections or learned from modern members of indigenous groups. Still, the cross-sectional approach results in a mix of relatively well-known episodes with those that are less familiar. Among the former are “Why Anansi Has a Narrow Waist,” a Spanish version of “The Three Sillies” called “Bastianito” and two verse extracts from the legends of El Cid. Readers are less likely to know scary tales from Aztec Zempoala and Tlacopán, exploits of the clever Mayan “Dwarf of Uxmal,” creation myths from Taíno Guanahaní, Basque, and Moroccan Jewish tales—among dozens of other rarities from carefully specified locales. Despite a generally informal tone (“King Sancho the Eleventy Leventh became angry”), this lends itself less to reading straight through than using as a storyteller’s resource; along with frequent prefatory cultural notes, the Youngs add discussion points, glossaries, and inserted pronunciations for proper names and non-English phrases.
A respectful, sometimes irreverent and broadly multicultural treasury of dramas, romances, chillers, knee-slappers and teaching tales. (introduction) (Folk tales. 11-14, adult)