The Latin American Story Finder

A Guide to 470 Tales from Mexico, Central America and South America, Listing Subjects and Sources


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About the Book

Anything is possible in the world of Latin American folklore, where Aunt Misery can trap Death in a pear tree; Amazonian dolphins lure young girls to their underwater city; and the Feathered Snake brings the first musicians to Earth. One in a series of folklore reference guides (“…an invaluable resource…”—School Library Journal), this book features summaries and sources of 470 tales told in Mexico, Central America and South America, a region underrepresented in collections of world folklore. The volume sends users to the best stories retold in English from the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations, Spanish and Portuguese missionaries and colonists, African slave cultures, indentured servants from India, and more than 75 indigenous tribes from 21 countries. The tales are grouped into themed sections with a detailed subject index.

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: 328
Bibliographic Info: glossary, appendix, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7895-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2229-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
I—Beginnings and Balance: Earth, Sun, Moon, Night, People, Floods, Fire, Sky, Food, Music (Stories 1–33) 7
II—Journeys to Other Realms (Stories 34–52) 28
III—Winning and Losing with the Gods (Stories 53–85) 39
IV—Making Bargains, Good and Bad (Stories 86–123) 58
V—The Community (Stories 124–165) 81
Teamwork 124;
Leadership 132;
The Residents 137
VI—Reaching Out with Kindness (Stories 166–179) 103
VII—Seeking Justice (Stories 180–196) 111
VIII—Punishments and Rewards: Teaching Good and Wise Behavior (Stories 197–231) 123
IX—When Cultures, Classes or Species Collide (Stories 232–265) 142
X—Defenders of the Earth (Stories 266–289) 163
XI—Between Husbands and Wives (Stories 290–311) 176
XII—For Love (Stories 312–348) 188
XIII—Supernatural Seducers (Stories 349–364) 212
XIV—Tricksters and Fools (Stories 365–415) 221
Pedro de Urdemalas 365;
More People Tricksters 380;
Animal Tricksters 385;
Fools 402;
Lucky Fools 410
XV—Heroic Rescues and Magical Escapes (Stories 416–441) 254
XVI—Strange and Mysterious Encounters (Stories 442–470) 272
Appendix A: Indigenous Peoples by Country, with Alternate Names 287
Appendix B: Glossary 290
Bibliography 295
Story Title Index 302
Subject Index 309

Book Reviews & Awards

  • A Library Journal Best Reference
  • “Recommended”—Choice
  • “Gather[s] 470 tales from 21 countries and 75 indigenous tribes…a pleasure”—Library Journal
  • “A fascinating mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and indigenous Native American narratives…excellent resource…valuable”—Oklahoma State University Libraries
  • “A unique resource on over 470 Latin American tales”—ARBA
  • “Highly recommended”—Hispania
  • “An invaluable resource”—School Library Journal