Atmospheric woodcuts illustrate this Newbery Award–winning collection of 19 South American folktales. Charles J. Finger heard the tales firsthand from native storytellers, whose fables of talking animals, witches, giants, and ordinary people in supernatural settings provide remarkable insights into regional values and culture.
The first of the stories, “A Tale of Three Tails,” tells of an age when the rat had a tail like a horse, the rabbit had a tail like a cat, and the deer’s tail was plumed like the tail of a dog. “The Magic Dog” recounts an act of kindness to a stray animal that helps overcome a witch’s curse. In “The Calabash Man,” the creatures of the jungle assist a suitor in winning his bride, and in “El Enano,” a greedy troll’s insatiable appetite leads to his downfall. Packed with adventure and full of surprises, these and other stories emphasize the importance of hard work, courage, and loyalty.