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Sister Tricksters

Author: Robert D. San Souci   Illustrator: Daniel San Souci

Product Code: 791X
11 x 8.5
Four color
Binding: Hardcover
Age Range:
8 to 12
Grade Range:
3 to 6
Price: $19.95
We all remember the exploits of Br'er Rabbit and his cohorts Br'er Fox, Br'er Possum, and other sly characters. But while these tales were circulating among slaves in the southern United States, another set of stories was passed along just as enthusiastically … only here the clever tricksters were female. As Anne Virginia Culbertson, one of the early collectors of these stories, noted, "A woman sees all 'round and over and underneath and on both sides of a thing [while] a man's just trying to stare ....


NAPPA Children's Resources Family Honors Award
Storytelling World Honor Award (Storytelling Collections)

School Library Journal — Kirsten Cutler
These eight stories, featuring characters like Molly Cottontail, Miz Grasshopper, and Miz Goose, are energetically retold from Anne Virginia Culbertson's long out-of-print At the Big House (Bobbs-Merrill, 1904). The informative introduction states that the motivation for this book is to reintroduce female tricksters who are otherwise sparsely represented in folklore. An occasional pointed statement implies that females are more adept at thinking than males. Tales include an amusing story about Mistah Fox, who pretends to be dead; a humorous pourquoi tale that explains why roosters and toads eat grasshoppers; and a hilarious tale about Mistah Bear, who sits on a pile of pumpkins because Miz Goose convinces him that they are eggs that will hatch the family he so dearly wants. Delicious dialect and expressions convey a rural Southern flavor, yet the text is never hard to read or understand. In one story, Molly Cottontail responds to Mistah Fox, "I know I'm no more to look at these days than a lean crow with a graveyard cough." Stunning, richly colored, detailed, and playful paintings showing animals dressed in lavish finery introduce each lively tale. The illustrations and the large-print text stand out clearly on cream-colored backgrounds. This book warrants a place in all folklore collections.

Troy Broadcasting Corporation — Dave (Doc) Kirby
The stories are delightful.

Kirkus Reviews
Females, worthy foes of their male counterparts, are often absent from the body of trickster tales, but in this stellar collection, it's Molly Cottontail (aka Milly Hare) who takes center stage and matches wits with Mistah Slickry Sly-fox. Slickry's staged funeral and his plan to get even with Miz Molly are foiled when she arrives at the funeral and awakens him by throwing a pepper-laced bouquet of flowers on his corpse. Forced to sneeze, Slickry gives chase as Miz Molly is joined by Miz Grasshopper, Miz Duck and Miz Goose, and the rollicking fun takes off through the rest of the tales, eight in all. Full-page luminously colored illustrations introduce each tale as they foreshadow each story's action. The telling is styled in southern droll and perfect for adding to the storyteller's bag. The introduction summarizes the origin of the female trickster tale and helps to make this a first purchase for most libraries.

— Linda Spitzer, Storyteller
Award winning author of 65 picture books and story collections, Robert D. San Souci has written a collection of trickster tales to show that the 'fairer sex' can be just as clever and resourceful as their male counterparts! San Souci's "tricky" gals include Molly Cottontail, Miz Goose, Sis Duck and Miz Grasshopper. These eight delightful and fun stories will capture the reader or the story-listener. I can just envision a good storyteller using a lot of gestures and body language and voices to make these stories come alive. The stories are long, but probably when told by the storyteller, the events will happen much quicker to keep the audience as enchanted as I was reading them. There is lots of humorous dialogue and rhyming phrases to keep the listener involved. I loved the southern dialect Mr. San Souci uses for his characters to talk. The storyteller who learns one or more of the stories will really get to play with the characters. In one story, Miz Goose has Mistah Bear sitting on a nest of pumpkins because she told him he could hatch his own family. You know there's going to be trouble when he finds out!! Besides Mistah Bear, there is Mistah Slickery Sly- fox and Mistah Hare to play tricks on. Virginia Hamilton, storyteller, author, folklorist, believes "that the animal tricksters were invented by communities to perform outlandish tricks". San Souci's retelling of these folktales will bring them back for generations of new listeners and readers.

The Bulletin of The Center For Children's Books
While the exploits of Anansi the Spider, Br'er Rabbit, and Coyote may be familiar from the many noteworthy collections of trickster tale published for young people, the female tricksters have had far less prominence in the literature. This outstanding collection be the brothers San Souci seeks to right that wrong by means of eight trickster tales of a more feminine persuasion from the American South. Adapted from a turn-of-the-century collection gathered by Anne Virginia Culbertson, these tales recall the wit and wisdom of Molly Cottontail, Miz Grasshopper, and Miz Duck, among others. While the stories stand independent of one another, they are all related in that the characters live in the same community, so the exploits of one tale carry over as revenge (or, as is often the case, attempted revenge) in the next. More often than not, the female tricksters are depicted as superior thinkers ("That seems to be the special gift of the ladies, to get their own way with their brains instead of their fists. Compared to these quick-wits, menfolk often seem kind of clumsy and lumbersome"); the womenfolk also seem to work more in cahoots with one another, so that when Miz Goose tricks Mistah Bear into sitting on a pile of pumpkins to hatch a family, she is quick to run off and tell Miz Molly Cottontail about the trick she played (who then hurries over to laugh at Bear herself). The eight selections are consistently remarkable, and the rhythmic dialect and finely tuned language of the stories beg for a rollicking read aloud. Each tale is accompanied by a single vibrantly rendered painting by Daniel San Souci; the paintings, which depict an expressive and at times mischievous cast of characters in a moment of action from the upcoming story, would function well to inspire plot predictions from the audience. A solid introduction grounds trickster tales in a historical and social context. This fine collection is certain to receive widespread kudos and a long and noteworthy life on shelves and in story programs.

Library Media Connection — Ann Gray
San Souci has pulled together eight trickster tales from the American South. What is special about these tales is that they all have females as the clever tricksters. Each tale includes one colorful illustration. I remember hearing my father read Uncle Remus stories to us when we were children and this collection reminded me of those. Characters include Miz Molly Cottontail, Miz Grasshopper, Miz Duck, and Miz Goose who play tricks on Mistah Bear, Mistah Slickry Sly-fox and other hapless males and get themselves out of some sticky situations. Any of these tales would be a good choice for a storyteller who does well with acting out stories. They are all sure to get a laugh from the audience. They would also be good for read-alouds.

Baton Rouge Advocate, Book Notes — Cynthia Campbell
Most of us remember the antics of Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox, but these were not the only stories told by slaves in the southern United States. Another set of tales were passed along - only the clever tricksters were female. Award winning authors and experts on folklore, the San Souci brothers tackle the sister tricksters with both humor and respect. Using rhythmic dialect, writer Robert interprets the exploits of Molly Cottontail, Miz Grasshopper and Miz Duck against worthy foes. Brother Daniel brings the characters to life with colorful illustrations set against a rural South background. The stories have a slapstick element, but they carry undercurrents of wisdom and reassurance that even the weakest creature can, with the application of brain power, find her or his way out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Rather than considering the stories "politically incorrect," readers can appreciate the wonder of folk tales that should not be lost. Sister Tricksters gives them a fresh life and reintroduces them to a new generation of listeners and readers.

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