The Greenwood Library of American Folktales
by Thomas A. Green, ed.
September 2006, 1592pp, 7x10
4 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-33772-7
$321, £247, 280€, A440
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08085-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Collects, regionally organizes, and comments on a wide range of American folktales, with special attention to tales from diverse ethnic traditions.

Paul Bunyan, Br’er Rabbit, Bluebeard, and Billy the Kid. These are just some of the many character alive today through folktales. A goldmine for students, storytellers, and general readers, this massive work gives easy access to the stories and legends that have captivated us for generations and continue to influence film, television, literature, and popular culture. The most ambitious undertaking of its kind, this collection conveniently groups American folktales by region and includes common and less familiar stories from a wide range of ethnic traditions. It also provides a generous sampling of electronic lore circulating on the Internet. Introductions, notes, appendices, and other helpful aids cover the fascinating background of these tales and bring them alive for students of history, literature, social studies, and the arts.

Included are selections from various types of tales, such as legend, joke, tall tale, personal narrative, and myth, along with a generous sampling of electronic lore circulating on the Internet. Introductions, notes, appendices, and other aids link the tales to their origins and afterlives, so that students in social studies classes can learn about American history and culture, while literature students can learn about language, genres, and dialects.


Includes appendices and an extensive index. Offers generous bibliographical information. Organizes tales according to region. Places the tales in their cultural and historical contexts. Presents lucid and informative explanatory headnotes. Promotes cultural diversity by exposing students to a wide range of traditions. Supports the literature curriculum by helping students explore stories, genres, and dialects. Supports the social studies curriculum by helping students understand American culture.


"The volumes are organized by general geographic regions (with the addition of the new territory of cyberspace), and common themes are cross-referenced among regions. Each region is introduced with an essay before the tales are divided into Origins, Heroes, Heroines, Tricksters and Fools, and The Powers That Be (which includes both secular and sacred tales). Each volume has its own bibliography, and there is also a general bibliography, all of which are very useful....[t]his work is a useful supplement for academic and large public libraries with an interest in folk traditions."—Library Journal, January 1, 2007

"This set offers a wonderful sampling of American regional folklore, which will be valuable to researchers, storytellers, older students with an interest in the subject, browsers, and teachers of all grade levels."—VOYA, December 1, 2008

"Following the practice, if not the explicit policy, of the America Folklore Society, Green organizes his anthology of folktales by geographical regions. The jokes, folktales, legends, myths, and personal experiences are designed to provide access to the range of narrative genres for educators, students, and researchers who require examples to illustrate these genres. For each narrative, he identifies the tradition bearer, literary source, date, original location, and national origin to the extent that they are known. The four volumes tramp from the northeast to the northwest, and there they hop aboard that old cyberspace to finish the trip. They are paged and referenced separately, but the cumulative index in each volume facilitates the comparison of variants in different regions."—Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2007

"For each folktale, the title and tradition bearer are given, the source, the date, the original source and the national origin. An opening paragraph relates to such things as an explanation of the legend, a comment variant of Beauty and the Beast and motif. This has any number of applications in high school, from drama classes with students telling folktales to a comparison of the folktale to a study of geography matching the tale to reality. Also, comparisons of the different motifs in tales across Indian tribes could be discussed. High school librarians should tell their elementary counterparts about this reference, and offer to let them use it."—GALE Reference for Students, May 1, 2007

"A wide range of American folklore is represented in this multivolume collection designed for students, teachers, storytellers, and anyone interested in this aspect of U.S. history and culture....While Native American tales dominate and are identified by tribe, the collection is well balanced, with a significant presence of African-American, Latino, and European-American tales. The editor's decision to incorporate tales from the Caribbean into the volume on the American South is a wise choice to acknowledge the cross-fertilization....One of this collection's most significant contributions is its section on folktales in cyberspace, where one can see that despite technological changes, there is remarkable consistency in the structure and themes of folk stories. This collection is recommended for academic and large public library collections, regional and state libraries, and smaller libraries with a special interest in American folklore."—Multicultural Review, April 1, 2007

"This work organizes folktales by region rather than by ethnicity or cultural group, and then by theme....The stories illustrate how a region shapes its peoples' attitudes. Entry notes list the source, date, and national origin. Also provided, where applicable, is information on which motif the tale adheres to and its number in standard folktale classifications. For example, some tales are variants of the Beauty and the Beast story, AT425C. The Cyberspace section is an unusual feature. This collection of notable e-mail and early Web hoaxes, tall tales, and other stories involving American companies and people demonstrates how the Internet has allowed Americans to continue storytelling in a new forum. While far from a complete survey of the nation's folktales, American Folktales presents a new way of looking at them. High schools serving students doing advanced research will want to consider this collection."—School Library Journal, April 1, 2007

"[T]he only multivolume set organized along regional lines that is accessible to students and available to libraries, and it will be a useful addition to college and university libraries where students are seeking accessible information on regional folklore, as well as to large public libraries needing a single source for this type of information."—Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin, March 1, 2007

"The four-volume Greenwood Library of American Folktales offers readers and researchers an opportunity to enjoy and contemplate an array of narratives that have played a large part in shaping our nation’s collective identity. . . . The Greenwood Library of American Folktales will have a place in academic libraries and in larger public libraries with a concentration of material in folklore and narrative."—Western Folklore, May 1, 2009
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