Stories from Songs
Ballads as Literary Fictions for Young Adults
by Gail de Vos
December 2008, 500pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59158-424-7
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2793-8
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Learn how real events evolved into folk stories and legends, developed into traditional folk ballads, and ultimately evolved into print formats, and been adapted to today’s teen interests.

The sensational content of folk ballads makes them especially attractive to young adults. In this fascinating study of folk ballads and their evolution, you’ll explore various renditions of such popular songs as Frankie and Johnny, Stagolee, Pretty Polly, and Barbara Allen, as well as lesser known ballads (e.g., Lord Thomas and Fair Annet, Twa Sisters, and King Orfeo). You’ll learn about the origins of the stories, how they have developed and changed over time, traveled throughout countries and across oceans, and ultimately evolved into literary forms, such as poetry, novels, and graphic novels, many of which are directed at young adults. Citing numerous critical interpretations and commentary, this book offers great insight into this genre of popular folk literature.

After an introduction to the form and its place in history, the author explores various types of ballads (e.g., child ballads, border ballads, broadside ballads). An examination of modern and contemporary re-workings of ballads, organized by themes, comprises the heart of the book. Ballad types covered include: tragic love stories, murder ballads, otherworld beings, tricks and disguises, and ballads from other cultures. Oral origins and history, critical interpretations, re-workings, and current recordings are included for each ballad; along with a list of resources.


2010 Storytelling World Award - Winner, Special Storytelling Resources—Storytelling World, October 21, 2009


"Stories from Songs is an impressively presented, informed and informative scholarly study that is an essential edition to academic library collections and appropriate for both students of Folk Music History and non-specialist general readers with an interest in learning from the background and development of the ballad as a source of information, ethics, cultural development, and social entertainment for teenagers and young adults."—Midwest Book Review, April 1, 2009

"For storytellers, librarians, researchers and teachers in high schools and colleges who deal with folktales and ballads in their classrooms, De Vos (library and information studies, U. of Alberta-Edmonton) describes modern renditions of traditional ballads that might appeal to teenagers today. For each she sketches the plot, identifies alternative titles, traces its history, samples critical response over the years, and cites contemporary reworkings. The media she considers include novels, short stories, graphic novels, poetry, and of course recordings of the ballad itself. She and Anna E. Altman have produced two previous works that form a trilogy with this one."—Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2009

"De Vos's writing is thorough and scholarly, yet accessible. . . . Her work is heavily footnoted, and her numerous references will serve as a useful resource for other researchers. Multiple indexes (author/illustrator/musician, ballad, and title) assure that readers will find what they are looking for, making this a good choice for high school or university fine arts collections. Highly Recommended."—CM: Canadian Review of Materials, February 19, 2010
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