The Caribbean Story Finder

A Guide to 438 Tales from 24 Nations and Territories, Listing Subjects and Sources


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About the Book

The Caribbean islands have a vibrant oral folklore. In Jamaica, the clever spider Anansi, who outsmarts stronger animals, is a symbol of triumph by the weak over the powerful. The fables of the foolish Juan Bobo, who tries to bring milk home in a burlap bag, illustrate facets of traditional Puerto Rican life. Conflict over status, identity and power is a recurring theme—in a story from Trinidad, a young bull, raised by his mother in secret, challenges his tyrannical father who has killed all the other males in the herd. One in a series of folklore reference guides by the author, this volume shares summaries of 438 tales—some in danger of disappearing—retold in English and Creole from West African, European, and slave indigenous cultures in 24 countries and territories. Tales are grouped in themed sections with a detailed subject index and extensive links to online sources.

About the Author(s)

Sharon Barcan Elswit has been working as a children’s librarian for 35 years. She currently teaches in New York City. She writes reviews for Jewish Book Council and has published in School Library Journal, Writer’s Digest, and other magazines. Visit her website at .

Bibliographic Details

Sharon Barcan Elswit

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 316
Bibliographic Info: appendices, glossary, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6304-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3001-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
I—Musical Tales (Stories 1–18) 11
II—Winning and Losing with Gods and Spirits (Stories 19–75) 25
III—Seeking Justice (Stories 76–116) 53
IV—Be Careful: Beautiful ­Shape-shifters, ­Loup-garous, Devils, Zombies, and Other Supernatural Dangers (Stories 117–174) 77
V—Tearful Love and Playful Courtship (Stories 175–205) 109
Love 175;
Courtship 193
VI—Goodness: Kindness and Friendship (Stories 206–225) 129
VII—Powers That Be in the Community: The Weak and the Strong,
Yearnings, Teachers, Clever Thinkers, and Characters (Stories 226–310) 141
VIII—Tricksters: Besting the Bully and Schemes for Survival (Stories 311–362) 184
Anansi 311;
Malice 337;
Rabbit 345;
More Tricksters 350
IX—Tricksters Getting Tricked (Stories 363–385) 216
X—Fools: Hopeful Expectations and Surprising Successes …
Sometimes (Stories 386–409) 233
Juan Bobo 386; Bouki 398; More Fools 405
XI—Magical Rescues and Escapes (Stories 410–438) 247
Appendix A. Geographic Lexicon: A Guide to Story Source References 267
Appendix B. Sources for Stories Told in Creole and Patois 269
Appendix C. Glossary and Cast of Characters 271
Bibliography 279
Story Title Index 291
Subject Index 298

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Fills a gap…designed to help teachers, librarians, and storytellers find the right Caribbean story for the right audience at the right time. The rich oral traditions of Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago are on display in this well-constructed work…. bibliography is excellent…comprehensive subject index…valuable…recommended”—Choice
  • “An invaluable resource”—School Library Journal