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Wisdom Tales from Around the World

Author: Heather Forest

Product Code: 4791
11 Inches (US) x 8.5
Binding: Paperback
Age Range:
8 to 12
Grade Range:
3 to 6

Price: $19.95
This collection of fifty metaphorical folktales and parables is selected with a global perspective and retold by a professional storyteller. Included are tales from diverse story traditions such as Sufi, Zen, Taoist, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, African, and Native American. Comprised of ancient plots both poignant and comical, this anthology contains simple truths, common sense, and the promise that we can benefit from past generations' experience. Wisdom tales offer useful insights into life's ....


PLA/ALLS Best New Books for New Adult Readers Storytelling World Award NPR "Book of the Week"

School Library Journal
"Forest retells folktales, proverbs, and parables in a thoughtful and satisfying style that amuses as it deftly imparts lessons for living. While the stories are often universal, they reflect their cultural and religious roots. The explanatory notes for each section and tale add insights for better understanding.... This collection is too good to sit on the 398.2 shelves. It contains sources and has applications for classes in creative writing, multicultural studies, sociology, ethics, world civilizations, and for Sunday School. Although the format and cover seemed geared toward younger readers, the subtlety in many of the stories is right for YAs. They will see that under the seemingly simple surfaces of the tales lie deeper layers to plumb."

Kirkus Reviews
"Forest writes in such a simple, direct way that even readers not acquainted with the stories' contexts will grasp the particulars. She uses specific names or terms sparingly and livens the prose with occasional apt, clever rhymes. Two pages of proverbs and a section of analytical and source notes close out this readable, oftern funny, and consistently thought-provoking collection."

The Museletter
"These [50] metaphorical stories, by turns poignant and comical, impart simple truths and deep wisdom. Recommended for ages 9 through 12, and grown-ups of all ages."

Publishers Weekly
"Storytelling of a more uplifting nature is offered in Wisdom Tales from Around the World. Culled from such diverse traditions as Taoist parables, the Panchatantra of ancient India, the Bible and European folktales, the 50 entries, says Forest in an introduction, "pass down homespun wisdom encased in stories."

"The stories have the polished feel of the oral storytelling tradition and resound with lessons learned from common sense and experience. Readers will find some of the tales and protagonist new; others will be familiar. But either way, the situational humor, the use of animal characters, and the breadth of cultures represented are bound to please."

Chicago Parent
"We naturally try to teach our children lasting values, values that will guide them through life. It's not easy, however, to explain the beliefs we consider most fundamental and profound. For help in explaining your own values, or to better understand the beliefs of others, turn to these new children's books about world religions. Wisdom Tales offers parables, proverbs, and short folk tales from many religious traditions on all continents. Seperated into sections by their ethnic origins, these stories have been crafted for effective retelling."

Voice of Youth Advocates — Suzanne Julian
"Wisdom Tales from Around the World contains a nice mixture of stories from a variety of cultures and religious backgrounds. Each story is one or two pages and could be easily learned for storytelling. Representative stories come from India, China, Japan, Ancient Greece, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and America. Not only does Wisdom Tales offer good stories for storytellers, but it can be a useful resource for students looking for stories that represent various cultures. A nice addition to library collections in need of short, entertaining stories that go beyond traditional fairy tales."

Texas Child Care Quarterly
"This delightful collection of short stories draws on folk tales from India, China, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the ancient traditions of the Americas. Rich language and imagery lets young readers imagine the voice of an experienced, expressive storyteller. Most tales are fables or parables that encourage responses and discussion. Nearly all of the stories can be supported with flannel board figures--a great creative outlet for school-agers. Read a story with a group of children and then discuss the action. Ask which characters and objects they could draw to make the story more suitable for younder children. Supply paper; markers; clear, adhesive backed plastic; and scissors. After the characters are made, ask members of the group to retell the story with the figures. Help them experiment with voices and other sound effects that make the story more dramatic. Invite a group of preschoolers to hear the flannel board presentation."

"Jataka tales from India, Zen tales from Japan, and Sufi tales from the Middle East are just a few of the attractions in this collection of fifty tales. The theme of the collection is wisdom, and the fine line between humor and irony is notably balanced. Forest's brief retellings (the average length is two pages) are succinct and clear, her language straightforward, and her selections well-organized. The occasional versifications, while pithy, are not a strong component. The tales range from culture to culture, continent to continent, with examples from European, American Indian, and African traditions, as well as Christianity, Judaism, and the Ancient Greeks. The austere but attractive design includes a large typeface, generous white space, and balck-and-white borders based on graphic motifs and textile designs from the countries of origin. This collection is a valuable resource for storytellers and librarians as Forest's notes are extensive, providing a springboard to individual research of tale variants. A list of proverbs from around the world is included."

Madison County Journal — Margaret DeBolt
"It is said that Naked Truth and Parable once went out into society together. People looked at Naked Truth and slammed the door, or avoided him because he seemed boring. But Parable, with her pretty clothes and witty conversation, was welcome everywhere. She expressed the same truths, but they were easier to accept in a humorous guise. Even after she had gone, people quoted what she had said. Author Heather Forest begins her Wisdom Tales from Around the World collection with this story, which expresses her philosophy at work. A resident of Huntington, NY, she is a noted storyteller and the author of such books as Wonder Tales from Around the World and The Animals Could Talk. Wisdom Tales, from many cultures, are short and easy to tell, making them perfect for beginning storytellers and those who find themselves as such at Sunday School or the library. Some stories are unfamiliar, while others are favorites worth retelling, such as the Indian parable of the three blind men and the elephant. One man explored its wide, leathery side, and thought it like a rug. Another grabbed the tail, and said it resembled a rope. Still a third grasped a great leg and stated that it was a living pillar! At length, each sure of his research, they began to strike one another and argue. Meanwhile the elephant, whom none of them understood, stood quietly nibbling leaves. Another story, from Germany, was once in some of the school books, perhaps the McGuffy Readers. An old man who lived with his son and family, became so feeble that he frquently spilled things and broke his dishes. His daughter-in-law, exasperated, gave him an old wooden trough from the barn to use instead. Then the observant little boy of the family began carving another bowl out of a block of wood. When asked what he was doing, he replied that he was making the bowls his parents would use in their old age! Shocked, the father quickly reinstated the old man at his regular place at the table, with the same serving dishes as the rest of them. A story from England is based on the life of John Newton (1725-1807), who sailed on slave ships as a young man, with all the horrors of that profession. In time he returned home, became an abolitionist, and wrote a pamphlet, "Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade," which influenced antislavery sentiment in England. He also became a minister of the Church of England and wrote a beloved hymn of his own spiritual journey, "Amazing Grace." Information about the sources of the tales are included, along with a bibliography. A special bonus is two pages of parables from around the world, which show how much we are alike, in spite of different languages and different customs. A few examples are: Shrouds are made without pockets. (Yiddish) Only one finger cannot even lift a pebble. (Iran) The pot calls the kettle black. (U.S.) Not all that is black is charcoal. (Phillipines) Talk does not cook rice. (China) It is better to turn back than get lost. (Russia) It is one thing to cackle and another to lay an egg. (Ecuador) A book gives knowledge but life gives understanding. (Hebrew) Anger is a bad adviser. (Hungary)"

Territorial Tattler — Robert Rodriquez
"Philosophers may argue as to the definition of wisdom, but there is no doubt that Heather Forest has unearthed a veritable treasure trove from the world's folk literature. Here are parables, fables, teaching tales, and allegories from all over: Daoist tales from China, Zen stories from Japan, Jataka Buddhist stories from India, Sufi tales from the Middle East. Several of the stories are based on intriguing incidents from history, as the martyrdom of Saint Genesius, patron saint of actors, and the poignant story of the composition of the hymn, "Amazing grace," by the English slave trader turned abolitionist, John Newton. The folly of war and the virtues of peace, communal harmony, and co-operation are strikingly exemplified in such stories as "The Parts of the House" from the Philippines, "The Bonnie Lass of Angeley" from Scotland, and how war came to an end from the Yupik of Alaska. From rabbinical tales of eastern Europe to Aesop fables to native American teaching stories from the eastern U.S., these narratives embody Wisdom. For those who love notes and citation with lots of bibliographical references, this collection is just what the citation doctor ordered. We are all the wiser for what Heather Forest has given us with these enduring stories."

Second Story Review — Mary-Eileen McClear
"There are many reason why humans have always told stories: to entertain, to explain, to caution, to teach. Stories are told to demonstrate what is valued, and are told to show the proper way to live. The fifty stories in this collection come from around the world, and contain the wisdom and teachings of members of the Sufi, Zen, Taoist, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, African, and Native American traditions. Here you will find the story of St. Genesius, whose actions, it is said, inspired the traditional performer's good luck wish "break a leg." There are stories about greed, patience, falsehood, and truth. Many will be familiar to you, all will provoke thought. Simply and elegantly told by storyteller Heather Forest, these stories are ones which you will want to share with your families and your audiences. I have always maintained that the people of today's diverse society are lacking that body of wisdom, told to them in stories throughout a lifetime, which helps them to cope with challenges, stress, and conflict. Here is an excellent source for just such a body of stories. If every parent and teacher saw to it that children heard and lived these stories, we would be well on our way to a healthier society. Forest includes a section of proverbs from around the world and completes the book by adding a generous section of notes and references. Easy to learn, fun to hear, and important to know. Recommended for all ages."

Sing Out!
"This is another collection of world folktales from one of America's best tellers, Heather Forest. Wisdom Tales draws us into the world of our elders, a world where each story told at the hearthside is a jewel that teaches us how to live and be a better person in that living. The traditions are diverse, but their wisdom is universal. My personal favorite is a Jewish tale from Afghanistan called "The Wooden Sword." The wise peasant, tested at every turn by a determined monarch, shows that king how faith can conquer any obstacle. These are teaching tales that are filled with wisdom. The approach is a rainbow of cultural diversity that not only celebrates the myriad of peoples in these pages but also the commonality of the wise story and the wiser teacher. Highly recommended for parents, tellers, teachers, and anyone seeking truth."

"Heather Forest's Wisdom Tales from Around the World offers fifty folktales and parables with a global perspective. Storyteller Forest selects ancient plots which are easily understandable and which hold particular cultural significance. All are unusual, important literary contributions."

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