Folktales for Grown-ups

Over the millennia and around the world people have been telling variations of the same stories over and over. Some of the stories are tragic. Some are horrifying--and some are just silly. Some of the books on this list investigate what these stories mean to humankind. Some of these books are simply enjoyable retellings of old stories.

The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa

By Alexander McCall Smith

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Alexander McCall Smith retells forty African folk tales, some that he has collected since his childhood in Zimbabwe and some that he learned from a friend in Botswana. His wonderful character Mma Ramotswe writes an introductory letter as a preface to the collection.
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Rachel the Clever and Other Jewish Folktales

By Josepha Sherman

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This is a wonderful collection of 46 short folktales that share the themes of doing the right thing, surviving by cleverness and kindness and always maintaining a good sense of humor. They come from Poland, Central Asia, Iran, Morocco and many other places where Jews have settled. They are excellent choices for reading aloud or telling to a group.

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Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood

By Maria Tatar

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This is a study of the literary transformation of European folklore into cautionary and exemplary tales for children by such writers as the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. Examining these fairy tales from a feminist point of view the author brings a new perspective to the familiar tales.

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Mules and Men

By Zora Neale Hurston

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Mules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her native village of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, big old lies, and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal and preserve a beautiful and important part of American culture.Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone.

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Black Thorn, White Rose

By Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

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Eighteen tales that remold favorite childhood stories into things darker and sexier, more resonant and appealing to adults. Tattercoats, the Goose Girl, Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, and the Bremen Town Musicians are among the characters whose stories get a revision in this collection.
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A Wolf at the Door: And Other Retold Fairy Tales

By Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

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What ever happened to the seven dwarfs after Snow White ditched them? What was life like for the giant above the beanstalk? Readers need wonder no more. Authors include Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Michael Cadnum, Nancy Farmer, Tanith Lee, Garth Nix, and Patricia A. McKillip.

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