Fourteen folktales from several regions of Africa, either collected by the author or adapted from hard-to-find printed sources. Fairman's deliciously lively writing belies his prefatory lament that ""a tale in a book is like a drum in a museum; it's silent, it's dead...."" Each story here is framed as a conversation between the storyteller--ganerally an older relative--and a thoroughly involved audience; side comments, rhetorical questions and invitations to join in on songs (often to a familiar melody like ""Jingle Belts"") or on sound effects make reading these almost as much a participatory experience as hearing them. From ancient Egypt comes the story of ""Zazamankh,"" whose difficult task is relieving Pharaoh's boredom; ""Omutugwa"" is a Kenyan Cinderella; in the pointed ""Hare and the White Man,"" a swindled human can't finger the culprit because all hares look alike to him. The stories feature a vigorous mixture of wisdom and foolishness, chills and hilarity, plus plenty of incidental information about village life in different areas. Brief source notes; occasional muted b&w illustrations. Fresh, funny, and almost audible.