#1. Aardema, Verna. Behind the Back of the Mountain: Black Folktales from Southern Africa. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1973. Pages: 86.
Verna Aardema [1911-2000] was a prolific author of children’s books based on African folktales, beginning with Tales from the Story Hat in 1960 and More Tales from the Story Hat in 1966; you can find out more in her memoir, A Bookworm Who Hatched, published in 1992. Here in Behind the Back of the Mountain, you will find 10 folktales from southern Africa. The beautiful illustrations are by the African American artist Leo Dillon [1933-2012] and his wife, Diane Dillon [b. 1933]. For more books by Aardema illustrated by the Dillons, see the following two items.
More from southern Africa: , 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#2. Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1975. Pages: 27.
For more about the author Verna Aardema and the artists Leo and Diane Dillon, see the previous item. This book won the Caldecott Medal, and it features a cumulative chain tale, one of the most popular African folktale genres: the mosquito begins a long chain of trouble that ends with the reason why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. For more from Aardema and the Dillons, see the following item.
More award-winning books: , 38, 53, 67, 69, 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, 136, 145, 181
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#3. Aardema, Verna. Who’s in Rabbit’s House? A Masai Tale. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1979. Pages: 30.
This Maasai story from eastern Africa originally appeared in a book that Verna Aardema published in 1969: Tales for the Third Ear from Equatorial Africa. Aardema’s source for the story was A. C. Hollis’s collection of Maasai folktales [see #108 below], which includes the story both in the Maasai language and in English: “The Caterpillar and the Wild Animals.” To illustrate Aardema’s version of the story, Leo and Diane Dillon show the events as a dramatic performance by the people of a Maasai village who wear masks representing the animal characters.
Other authors have worked with this same story, including Melinda Lilly in Warrior Son of a Warrior Son [see #126 below] and Tololwa Mollel in Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper [see #143 below].
More from the Maasai people: , 108, 126, 134, 143
More Rabbit stories: , 4, 78, 103, 131, 146, 185
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#4. Aardema, Verna. Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion: A Swahili Tale. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Published in 1989. Pages: 28.
In this book, Verna Aardema collaborated with the African American artist Jerry Pinkney [1939-2021]. The story about the trickster rabbit comes from George Bateman’s book of tales from Zanzibar [see #25 below]: “The Hare and the Lion.” You can also find a Swahili version of the story in Edward Steere’s book Swahili Tales as Told by Natives of Zanzibar [see #180 below]: “The Hare and the Lion / Sungura na Simba.”
Aardema and Pinkney also collaborated on a book inspired by African riddles: Ji-Nongo-Nongo Means Riddles. For more from Aardema, see the previous and following items.
More from Jerry Pinkney: , 14, 15, 93, 199
More Swahili stories: , 25, 130, 180
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#5. Aardema, Verna. Misoso: Once Upon a Time Tales from Africa. Illustrated by Reynold Ruffins. Published in 1994. Pages: 88.
For this book, Verna Aardema [see #1 above] worked with the African American artist Reynold Ruffins [1930-2021; see also #89 below]. The book includes 12 stories, mostly from western Africa, with a bibliography of sources in the back.
One of Aardema’s sources was “Bata Kindai Amgoza Ibn Lobagola,” the African identity created by Joseph Howard Lee [1877–1947], who masqueraded for many years as a self-proclaimed “savage” from western Africa. Under that name Lee published both an autobiography and also a collection of stories, Folktales of a Savage. Aardema, along with many others, took Lobagola at his word, and she retold his story “The Man Who Thought That He Was Foolish” in this book, side by side with stories from African sources.
More from African American / Diaspora artists: 1, 2, 3, 4, , 14, 15, 37, 38, 39, 72, 86, 89, 93, 99, 102, 104, 110, 145, 154, 157, 176, 181, 186, 195, 199
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#6. A’Bodjedi, Enènge. Ndòwé Tales. Published in 1999. Pages: 257.
Enènge A’Bodjedi begins his book with a cultural overview of the Ndowe people of Equatorial Guinea on the west coast of central Africa. As the author explains, he immigrated to the United States to escape the Macías dictatorship in the 1970s, and while in the United States he began collecting stories from other Ndowe people so that he could preserve and share their traditions in English. A’Bodjedi has included 15 stories in this book, each of which is accompanied by detailed notes.
More from central Africa: , 85, 147, 174, 183
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#7. Abrahams, Roger. African Folk Tales: Traditional Stories of the Black World. Published in 1983. Pages: 353.
This anthology by Roger Abrahams [1933-2017], a professor of folklore at the University of Pennsylvania, contains 93 stories from across Africa. The stories are organized thematically: wonder tales, dilemma tales, tricksters and animal tales, epic tales, and tales of daily life, along with a detailed bibliography of sources.
In addition to his work on African folklore, Abrahams also wrote about African American and Caribbean traditions, including this important anthology: African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World.
More from across Africa: , 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#8. Achebe, Chinua and John Iroaganachi. How Leopard Got His Claws [East African Educational Publishers Sparrow Readers series]. Published in 1996. Pages: 25.
Yes, this is a children’s book by the renowned Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe [1930-2013], author of Things Fall Apart. The story, first written by John Iroaganachi [b. 1928] and later revised by Achebe, uses traditional African folktale characters to create a literary fable inspired by the Biafra conflict. The “Lament of the Deer” included in the story was composed by Christopher Okigbo [1932-1967], a Nigerian poet who died fighting for Biafran independence.
For another folkloric story by Achebe, see his Tortoise tale, “The Drum,” in Véronique Tadjo’s Chasing the Sun, #187 below.
More from Nigeria: , 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#9. African Women’s Network. Stories from Africa. Illustrated by the authors. Published in 2009. Pages: 35.
This book is the result of a community-based project from the African Women’s Network in Dublin, Ireland, featuring 10 stories written and illustrated by members of the collective. Most, but not all, of the stories are animal stories, and each story indicates its country of provenance along with the name of the storyteller. The book is intended for use in elementary schools so that Irish children can learn about Africa and also for African children living in Ireland so that they can celebrate their heritage.
More from African authors: 6, 8, , 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#10. Al-Shahi, Ahmed and Francis C. T. Moore. Wisdom from the Nile: A Collection of Folk-Stories from Northern and Central Sudan [Oxford Library of African Literature series]. Published in 1978. Pages: 256.
The 71 stories in this book provide a gateway into the Arabic storytelling traditions of northern Africa. The stories were collected by students at the University of Khartoum working with storytellers in communities along the Nile in upper and central Sudan. The authors, Ahmed Al-Shahi and Francis C. T. Moore, then translated the stories into English. There is a long introduction that puts the stories in their cultural and geographic context, and there is also a detailed glossary of words and concepts in the back of the book.
More from northern Africa: , 24, 50, 77, 88, 115, 142, 172
More from the Oxford Library of African Literature: , 82, 90, 169
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#11. Amadu. Amadu’s Bundle: Fulani Tales of Love and Djinns [African Writers series]. Edited by Gulla Kell and translated by Ronald Moody. Published in 1972. Pages: 88.
This book contains 28 stories written by Amadu, a Fulani malum (scholar) from western Nigeria, as edited and translated into German by the anthropologist Gulla Pfeffer Kell [1887-1967]. Kell was working with the Ful-speaking peoples of Cameroon and Nigeria in the 1920s when she met Amadu on his travels through the Ngaoundéré Plateau of Cameroon. He shared with her a bundle of stories he had written down; hence the title of the book [compare Rattray’s work with Shaihua, a Hausa malam; see #165 below]. Ronald Moody [1900-1984] later translated the stories into English for the African Writers series; for another book in this important series, see #193 below: The Way We Lived: Ibo Customs and Stories by Rems Umeasiegbu.
More from western Africa: , 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, 95, 105, 131, 132, 147, 150, 160, 166
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#12. Appiah, Peggy. Ananse the Spider: Tales from an Ashanti Village. Illustrated by Peggy Wilson. Published in 1966. Pages: 152.
Peggy Appiah [1921-2006] was a British-born author of children’s books whose husband was from Ghana, and Appiah lived in Ghana for most of her adult life — and, yes, she is the mother of the philosopher and cultural theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah [b. 1954]. This book of 13 Spider stories was Appiah’s first collection of African folktales. Appiah went on to write many more collections of Ashanti folktales and proverbs, as well as novels about life in western Africa. For more of Appiah’s work, see the following item.
More Spider stories: , 14, 15, 18, 20, 52, 55, 63, 64, 90, 98, 114, 136, 159, 178
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#13. Appiah, Peggy. Tales of an Ashanti Father. Illustrated by Mora Dickson. Published in 1967. Pages: 157.
For this project, Peggy Appiah has retold stories that her husband, Joe Appiah [1918-1990], told to their children. The book contains 22 stories, including stories about Spider and other animals, along with stories about human characters. Many of the stories are aetiological “why” stories: why the leopard has spots, why the snake has no legs, why nephews inherit property in Ashanti, how death came to mankind, etc. For more Spider stories from Appiah, see the previous item.
More from Ghana: 12, , 18, 20, 32, 37, 55, 90, 136, 165, 199
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#14. Arkhurst, Joyce Cooper. The Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Published in 1964. Pages: 58.
This book features 6 Spider stories that Joyce Arkhurst [b. 1921] heard from storytellers in Liberia and Ghana (her husband, Frederick Arkhurst, was a career diplomat born in Ghana). The illustrations are by Jerry Pinkney. This was Pinkney’s first book and does not yet have that immediately recognizable quality of his later work, although you can see hints of his style emerging even here. There is also an abridged edition, The Further Adventures of Spider, published as part of the Passport to Reading series. For more Spider stories from Arkhurst and Pinkney, see the following item.
More from Jerry Pinkney: 4, , 15, 93, 199
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#15. Arkhurst, Joyce Cooper. More Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Published in 1972. Pages: 48.
This book is a sequel to Joyce Arkhurst and Jerry Pinkney‘s earlier book, The Adventures of Spider [see previous item], featuring 6 more Spider stories. Pinkney’s mature style as an artist had taken shape by the time this book was published, and the illustrations are beautiful. Unlike the previous collection, in which the stories stood on their own without commentary, the stories in this book each have a brief introduction providing some cultural context, and there is also a glossary in the front of the book.
More Spider stories: 12, 14, , 18, 20, 52, 55, 63, 64, 90, 98, 114, 136, 159, 178
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#16. Arnott, Kathleen. African Myths and Legends [Oxford Myths and Legends series]. Illustrated by Joan Kiddell-Monroe. Published in 1962. Pages: 212.
Kathleen Arnott [1914-2010] was an English missionary who lived for 12 years in Nigeria, arriving there in 1939 and returning to England in 1951. This book of 34 stories, with illustrations by Joan Kiddell-Monroe [1908–1972], was Arnott’s first folktale anthology. The stories come from a variety of African storytelling traditions, with a bibliography of sources in the back of the book. Some of the Hausa and Fulani stories in the book were translated into English by Arnott’s husband, David Whitehorn Arnott [1915-2004], a professor of West African languages at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. Kathleen Arnott is also the author of Tales of Temba: Traditional African Stories, which features illustrations by African American artist Tom Feelings [see #104 below].
More Oxford Myths and Legends: , 28, 142
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#17. Atkinson, Norman. The Broken Promise, and Other Traditional Fables from Zimbabwe. Illustrated by Tali Geva-Bradley. Published in 1989. Pages: 88.
Norman Atkinson [1932-2014] was an educator affiliated with the University of Zimbabwe (formerly the University of Rhodesia). He was born in Ireland, attended university in Ireland and England, and then came to Zimbabwe in 1970 where he spent the rest of his life. This book contains 16 stories, mostly from Shona storytellers, along with some Ndebele and Venda stories. The book is intended for teachers and students, so you will find discussion questions and suggested learning activities throughout the book.
More from southern Africa: 1, , 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#18. Badoe, Adwoa. The Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories. Illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. Published in 2001. Pages: 64.
Adwoa Badoe, a physician and a storyteller, was born and educated in Ghana; she now lives in Canada. This book features 10 Spider stories that Badoe heard growing up in Ghana. The illustrations are by Baba Wagué Diakité [b. 1961; see #69-71 below], an artist and writer from Mali who now lives in Oregon. Badoe dedicated the book to her mother, while Diakité’s dedication is to his grandmother, who told him that “stories teach us about the importance of all living creatures.”
More from African artists: , 69, 70, 71, 74, 81, 96, 112, 118, 134, 139, 160, 164, 187, 196
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#19. Barbosa, Rogério Andrade. African Animal Tales. Translated by Feliz Guthrie and Illustrated by Ciça Fittipaldi. Published in 1993. Pages: 63.
Rogério Andrade Barbosa is a Brazilian author, and he wrote this book based on his experiences living in Guinea-Bissau (formerly Portuguese Guinea) where he worked for the United Nations. In retelling these 10 animal stories, Barbosa has created frametales that set up each storytelling scene. For example, the story of “The Rain-God’s Vengeance” opens with the story of a hippo hunt, while the story of “Why Dogs Sniff Each Other” is presented as the story a grandfather tells to his grandson. The illustrations by Ciça Fittipaldi are inspired by the Yoruban art traditions of western Africa.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, , 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, 95, 105, 131, 132, 147, 150, 160, 166
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#20. Barker, William and Cecilia Sinclair. West African Folk-Tales. Illustrated by Cecilia Sinclair. Published in 1917. Pages: 184. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
William Barker and Cecilia Sinclair collected these stories from African students at a teacher training center in Accra, the capital of Ghana. The students wrote down the stories in English, and the authors then selected 36 stories to include in the book, sometimes combining multiple versions of the same story into a single version. Many of the stories in the book are about Anansi the Spider, and Cecilia Sinclair’s illustrations depict the trickster in his human form. There is also a free LibriVox recording of this book.
More from Ghana: 12, 13, 18, , 32, 37, 55, 90, 136, 165, 199
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#21. Bascom, William. African Dilemma Tales. Published in 1975. Pages: 162.
In this book, William Bascom [1912-1981], an anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley, presents summaries of 168 African dilemma tales, often including multiple variations of the same story, along with a detailed bibliography. Each story ends with a “dilemma” in the form of two or three or more choices, with the idea being that the storyteller’s audience would then debate the options. These stories are sometimes called “riddle tales,” but unlike a riddle, the dilemma tale does not have a specific solution; instead, the dilemma is meant to be open to debate. For more from Bascom, see the following item.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, , 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#22. Bascom, William. African Folktales in the New World. Published in 1992. Pages: 243.
After his definitive work on African dilemma tales [see the previous item], William Bascom published this groundbreaking study of African folktales in the Americas. The book has 14 chapters, with each chapter focusing on a specific story that is attested in Africa and also found in the Americas. As with the dilemma tales, Bascom here provides hundreds of story summaries along with a detailed bibliography that you can use to find the full version of each story, many of which are available at the Internet Archive.
In addition to these folktale studies, Bascom is also the author of ethnographic works such as The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria and Ifa Divination: Communication between Gods and Men in West Africa.
More African folklore in the Americas: , 59, 100, 105, 109
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#23. Baskerville, Rosetta. The Flame Tree and Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda. Illustrated by Mrs. E. G. Morris. Published in 1900. Pages: 113. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Rosetta Baskerville was the wife of George Baskerville, a missionary in Uganda. This was her first book of Ugandan folktales, published in 1900, with 22 stories plus 2 songs. In 1922 Baskerville published a second collection, The King of the Snakes and Other Folk-Lore Stories from Uganda, which contains an additional 26 stories, 4 songs, plus a selection of proverbs. Some of the stories Baskerville heard herself, while other stories she adapted from the Baganda folktales collected by Apollo Kaggwa [1864–1927; see #113 below].
For a modern retelling of Baskerville’s “The Story of the Frog” see #126 below: Wanyana and Matchmaker Frog: A Bagandan Tale by Melinda Lilly.
More from Uganda: , 113, 149, 176
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#24. Basset, René. Moorish Literature. Published in 1901. Pages: 281. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
René Basset [1855-1924] was a French linguist who specialized in the languages of the Amazigh (Berber) peoples of northern Africa. This book contains 42 folktales along with ballads, romances, and folk poetry. In addition to this book in English translation, you can find other books by Basset in French at the Internet Archive, including his monumental Contes Populaires d’Afrique (almost 500 pages long!). Some of Rene Basset’s stories appear in the Fairy Books of Andrew Lang [see #121 below].
For a more recent collection of Amazigh folktales, see An Anthology of Tashelhiyt Berber Folktales by Harry Stroomer.
More from northern Africa: 10, , 50, 77, 88, 115, 142, 172
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#25. Bateman, George. Zanzibar Tales Told by Natives of the East Coast of Africa. Illustrated by Walter Bobbett. Published in 1901. Pages: 224. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
The 10 stories in this book come from Swahili-speaking storytellers on the island of Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), as retold in English by George Bateman. There is also a LibriVox audiobook version available, and you can find the original Swahili texts in Edward Steere’s book, Swahili Tales as Told by Natives of Zanzibar [see #180 below]. The main trickster in this book is the rabbit, who is called Sungura in Swahili, and Bateman’s book provided the source story for Verna Aardema’s Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion: A Swahili Tale [see #4 above].
More Swahili stories: 4, , 130, 180
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#26. Belcher, Stephen. Epic Traditions of Africa. Published in 1999. Pages: 277.
This book by Stephen Belcher, an academic and writer who grew up in Africa (his father was a U.S. Foreign Service officer), provides a detailed overview of the African epic tradition, as you can see from the chapter titles: Elements of Epic Traditions, Epics of Central Africa, Hunters’ Traditions and Epics, Traditions of the Soninke, Sunjata and the Traditions of the Manden, Segou and the Bamana, Traditions of the Fula, and Emergent Traditions. There is also an extremely useful appendix of “Published Epic Texts” that provides an inventory of the published versions of all the epics referred to in the book: Lianja, Mwindo, Jeki, Ozidi, Wagadu, Sunjata (by far the most widely published), Hambodedio, Samba Gueladio, and more.
More epics: , 33, 40, 51, 83, 90, 101, 110, 148
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#27. Bender, Carl. African Jungle Tales. Published in 1919. Pages: 64. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Carl Bender [1869-1935] was a German-born American missionary in Cameroon. During his years in Africa, he collected folktales and eventually published 30 of them in this book. Bender indicates the cultural tradition of each storyteller, with most of the stories coming from the Kwe people of southwest Cameroon.
In addition to collecting folktales, Bender also collected proverbs, which he published in this booklet: Proverbs of West Africa.
More from Cameroon: , 94, 188
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#28. Bennett, Martin. West African Trickster Tales [Oxford Myths and Legends series]. Published in 1994. Pages: 130.
Martin Bennett, an English poet and writer, has worked as a teacher in both Ghana and Nigeria. This book contains 10 stories about Spider (called Anansi in Ghana, Gizo in Nigeria), Rabbit (called Leuk in Senegal), and other West African trickster characters.
The book was later reissued under the title Tales from West Africa with illustrations by Rosamund Fowler [b. 1963]. Fowler has also illustrated other Oxford Myths and Legends books, including Tales from the West Indies by Philip Sherlock [1902-2000], which features Anansi stories from the Caribbean.
More Oxford Myths and Legends: 16, , 142
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#29. Berger, Terry. Black Fairy Tales. Illustrated by David Omar White. Published in 1969. Pages: 137.
In this book, Terry Berger [b. 1933] has taken 10 stories from Bourhill and Drake’s Fairy Tales from South Africa [see #36 below] and retold them for a new audience, as she explains in the book’s dedication: “This book was done especially for the Black Children who have never read black fairy tales.” Berger chose some stories that resonate with familiar European fairy tales, while other stories are distinctively African, such as “The Fairy Bird,” a famous South African folktale about a magical milk-giving bird.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, , 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#30. Bergsma, Harold and Ruth Bergsma. Tales Tiv Tell. Illustrated by A. Ajayi. Published in 1968. Pages: 104.
Harold Bergsma [b. 1932] and his wife Ruth Bergsma [1933-2017] spent 12 years as missionaries and educators in Nigeria, arriving there in 1955. This book of 44 stories is the result of a project they completed with students in Benue State in north-central Nigeria: the students collected stories in the Tiv language (Tiv-speakers live in both Nigeria and in Cameroon), and the Bergsmas then translated the stories from Tiv into English. The book is intended for a Nigerian audience, especially students in Nigerian schools, as you can see in the reading comprehension questions after each story.
More from Nigeria: 8, , 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#31. Berry, Jack. West African Folktales. With an introduction by Richard Spears. Published in 1991. Pages: 229.
Jack Berry [1918-1980] was a professor of African languages at various European, American, and African universities. This book is the culmination of his work on West African storytelling traditions, and it contains 123 folktales with accompanying notes. Berry recorded the stories over a period of forty years, working with storytellers in Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria. The preface to the book, “Spoken Art in West Africa” (originally written in 1961) provides a very useful overview of the beauty and complexity of these oral art traditions — stories, proverbs, riddles, and songs — along with the difficulties faced both in recording the stories and also in presenting the stories to English-speaking audiences. The book was unfinished at the time of Berry’s death, but Richard Spears completed the final editing and wrote the introduction.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, , 53, 64, 95, 105, 131, 132, 147, 150, 160, 166
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#32. Berry, James. Don’t Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird. Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi. Published in 1996. Pages: 28.
James Berry [1924-2017], born in Jamaica, was one of the early champions of West Indian writing in England, where he lived for most of his adult life. Berry is best known as a poet, and in 1990 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In addition to being a poet, Berry was also a storyteller, and in this book, Berry retells the story “Do Not Leave an Elephant Behind to Go and Throw a Stone at the Wren” from Rattray’s Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales [see #165 below]; it is a tale about the trickster spider Anansi. The wonderful illustrations are by Ann Grifalconi [see also #94 and #152 below]. For more from Berry, see his book of Caribbean Spider stories: Anancy-Spiderman.
More from African American / Diaspora authors: 14, 15, , 37, 38, 39, 44, 46, 79, 83, 100, 102, 124, 145, 181, 195, 199
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#33. Biebuyck, Daniel and Kahombo C. Mateene. The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga [Congo Republic]. Published in 1971. Pages: 213.
The epic story of the hero Mwindo is a tradition of the Nyanga people in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Daniel Biebuyck [1925-2019] and Kahombo C. Mateene (who was the director of Language Policy for the Organization of African Unity) created this English version of Mwindo’s adventures based on oral performances in the 1950s and 1960s; you can read about their research and fieldwork in the introduction. The book includes both the Nyanga text and an English translation.
More epics: 26, , 40, 51, 83, 90, 101, 110, 148
More from the Congo: , 43, 68, 107, 167, 197
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#34. Bleek, Wilhelm. Reynard the Fox in South Africa, or Hottentot Fables and Tales. Published in 1864. Pages: 94. [This book is in the public domain.]
Wilhelm Bleek [1827-1875] was a German linguist who went to South Africa in 1855 to work on a Zulu grammar, thus beginning the work on African languages that would occupy the rest of his life. In this book, Bleek provides English translations of 42 stories and songs of the Khoekhoe people (then called Hottentots). Bleek assembled the texts from earlier published works and manuscripts, many of them written by missionaries, including Johann Georg Krönlein [1826-1892]. Bleek chose the title “Reynard the Fox” to make a claim for the high cultural value of these stories, in which the trickster jackal plays a role very similar to the role played by the trickster fox Reynard in the European tradition. For more of Bleek’s work, see the following item.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, , 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#35. Bleek, Wilhelm, Lucy Lloyd and Dorothea Bleek. The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore. Illustrated with San rock art as drawn by George Stow. Published in 1924. Pages: 68. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
In 1875, Wilhelm Bleek [see previous item] and his sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd [1834-1914] began working with some San (Bushman) storytellers, documenting their stories and songs in carefully transcribed sessions. When Bleek died in 1875, Lloyd carried on his work, as did Bleek’s daughter, Dorothea Bleek [1873-1948]. This book, published in 1924, is Dorothea Bleek’s rendering of 22 San stories for a general audience, illustrated with San cave art as copied by George William Stow [1822-1882].
For detailed transcriptions of the storytelling sessions on which this book is based, see the monumental book Specimens of Bushman Folklore, which Lloyd published in 1911 including both the San texts and English translations.
For a modern poetic rendering of some of these San stories, see Song of the Broken String: Poems from a Lost Oral Tradition by Stephen Watson [1954-2011].
More from the San people: , 125, 173
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#36. Bourhill, Mrs. E. J. and Mrs. J. B. Drake. Fairy Tales from South Africa. Illustrated by W. Herbert Holloway. Published in 1908. Pages: 249. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
The 20 fairy tales in this book are based on Swazi and Zulu stories from Swaziland (now Eswatini) and from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The commentary in the book’s introduction is deeply racist in a way that is inappropriate for young readers today, but there is a more modern version without the same racist framework in Terry Berger’s Black Fairy Tales, #29 above, which retells 10 of the stories from this book.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, , 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#37. Bryan, Ashley. The Adventures of Aku. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1976. Pages: 71.
Ashley Bryan [1923-2022] is an African American artist and storyteller, and this is one of his early African folktale books; see the following items for more. As the core of the story, Bryan adapted a cat-and-dog tale from Rattray’s Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales [see #165 below] with this long title: “How it came about that we shall always see Okra the cat lying on a velvet cushion, while ‘Kraman the dog will sleep among the ashes of the kitchen fire.”
More from Ghana: 12, 13, 18, 20, 32, , 55, 90, 136, 165, 199
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#38. Bryan, Ashley. African Tales, Uh-Huh. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1998. Pages: 199.
This book is a compendium containing all 13 stories from three of Ashley Bryan‘s African folktale books: The Ox of the Wonderful Horns from 1971, which was Bryan’s first African folktale project; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum, which was a Coretta Scott King award-winner in 1981; and Lion and the Ostrich Chicks, which was a Coretta Scott King honor-winner in 1987.
Another Ashley Bryan book, Beautiful Blackbird, won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2004; the story in that book comes from “How the Ringdove Came by its Ring” in Smith and Dale’s The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia [see #179 below].
More award-winning books: 2, , 53, 67, 69, 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, 136, 145, 181
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#39. Bryan, Ashley. The Night Has Ears: African Proverbs. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1999. Pages: 28.
In addition to his African folktale books, Ashley Bryan also created this book of African proverbs, illustrated in his colorful, vivid, immediately recognizable style [see also #37-38 above, and #67, #157, and #186 below]. Proverbs are a vital part of African cultural traditions, and they were also a part of Bryan’s childhood, as he explains in the book’s preface: “I grew up in a household of proverbs. My mother had a proverb ready for any situation, attitude, or event.”
More proverbs: 27, , 42, 82, 109, 116, 123, 154, 156, 165, 167, 182
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#40. Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek. With illustrations from Ethiopian manuscripts. Published in 1922. Pages: 241. [This book is in the public domain.]
The Kebra Nagast or “Glory of the Kings,” is the national epic of the Ethiopian Christians, probably composed sometime in the 14th century. It tells the story of Queen Makeda of Ethiopia (the Queen of Sheba), King Solomon, and their son Menelik, who brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. This translation by E. A. Wallis Budge [1857-1934] was the first complete translation of the Kebra Nagast into English. Budge is also the author of The Alexander Book in Ethiopia, which is a translation of the Ethiopian versions of the Alexander Romance, a legendary life of Alexander the Great.
There is also a shorter English version of the Kebra Nagast at the Internet Archive: The Golden Legend of Ethiopia by Post Wheeler. For another study of the Queen of Sheba legend, see the work by Enno Littmann, #128 below.
More from Ethiopia: , 54, 66, 97, 118, 119, 128
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#41. Burlin, Natalie Curtis, C. Kamba Simango, and Madikane Čele. Songs and Tales from the Dark Continent. Published in 1920. Pages: 170. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Natalie Curtis Burlin [1875-1921] was an ethnomusicologist who studied African and African American music; she was also a scholar of Native American music. To create this book of African stories, songs, and proverbs, Burlin worked with two coauthors: the Zulu songs and stories come from Madikane Čele, and the Ndau songs, stories, and proverbs come from C. Kamba Simango [d. 1966]. Both Čele and Simango were students at the Hampton Institute in Virginia.
Simango later studied at Columbia University with Franz Boas [1858-1942] before returning to Mozambique to work as a missionary and educator. For more Ndau stories and proverbs, see the article Simango wrote with Boas: “Tales and Proverbs of the Vandau of Portuguese South Africa” published in the Journal of American Folklore in 1922.
More books with music: , 166, 176, 190, 192
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#42. Burton, Richard Francis. Wit and Wisdom from West Africa. Published in 1865. Pages: 455. [This book is in the public domain.]
Richard Francis Burton [1821-1890] was a renowned scholar and world traveler who was fluent in many languages of the Middle East and of Africa. For this book, Burton compiled over 2000 proverbs from previously published sources, reporting the proverbs both in their original languages — Wolof, Kanuri, Ashanti, Ga, Yoruba, Efik, and more — along with English translations, plus explanatory notes. Burton also published a memoir in 1863 about his travels in West Africa: Wanderings in West Africa.
More proverbs: 27, 39, , 82, 109, 116, 123, 154, 156, 165, 167, 182
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#43. Burton, William. The Magic Drum: Tales from Central Africa. Illustrated by Ralph Thompson. Published in 1961. Pages: 127.
William F. P. Burton [1886-1971] was a Pentecostal missionary at the Congo Evangelistic Mission. He came to Africa in 1914 and spent the rest of his life there. This book contains 38 stories from the Luba people who live in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the introduction, Burton provides a brief overview of the traditional village life of the Luba people and the crucial role played by proverbs and stories. In addition to this collection of folktales, Burton published many other books, including a memoir: Missionary Pioneering in Congo Forests.
More from the Congo: 33, , 68, 107, 167, 197
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#44. Cabral, Len and Mia Manduca. Len Cabral’s Storytelling Book. Published in 1997. Pages: 235.
Len Cabral [b. 1948] is a professional storyteller whose grandparents came to the United States from Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa. This book contains 8 African folktales, along with Caribbean, Native American, European, and Asian stories, and each story features detailed, encouraging suggestions to help people develop their own storytelling skills and style.
One of the stories in this book provided the subject matter for another book by Len Cabral: Anansi’s Narrow Waist: An African Folk Tale, with illustrations by David Diaz [b. 1960], who also illustrated Smoky Night by Eve Bunting [b. 1928], for which Diaz won a Caldecott Medal.
More from African American / Diaspora authors: 14, 15, 32, 37, 38, 39, , 46, 79, 83, 100, 102, 124, 145, 181, 195, 199
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#45. Callaway, Henry. Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus. Published in 1868. Pages: 378. [This book is in the public domain.]
This monumental book by Henry Callaway [1817-1890] contains 50 Zulu folktales and historical anecdotes featuring both the Zulu text and Callaway’s English translation side by side. Callaway gathered these stories during his missionary work with the Zulu people in Natal in South Africa. After publishing these Zulu stories in 1868, he published The Religious System of the Amazulu in 1870, which also contains both the Zulu text and the English translation side by side.
For more literary renderings of some of these stories, see McPherson’s Native Fairy Tales of South Africa, #138 below.
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, , 49, 73, 90, 108, 111, 114, 116, 127, 128, 165, 169, 180, 182, 191
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#46. Camphor, Alexander Priestley. Missionary Story Sketches: Folk-Lore from Africa. Illustrated with photographs. Published in 1909. Pages: 346. [This book is in the public domain.]
Alexander Priestly Camphor [1865-1919] was born to parents who had been slaves on a sugar plantation in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. After their deaths, he was adopted and raised by a Methodist minister named Stephen Priestley; you can read Camphor’s own account of his early life in The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race. He and his wife were among the first Black missionaries from the United States in Africa, where Camphor was superintendent of the Methodist schools in Liberia. This book provides an account of Camphor’s time in Liberia along with 20 traditional stories and also proverbs that he collected there.
More from Liberia: , 62, 74, 79, 102, 157, 161
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#47. Cancel, Robert. Storytelling in Northern Zambia [World Oral Literature series]. Illustrated with photographs. Published in 2013. Pages: 274.
Robert Cancel is a professor of African literature at the University of California in San Diego, and this book is the product of his work with Bemba storytellers in Zambia over a period of 30 years. In addition to the English translations of the 41 stories, you can watch the video recordings of the storytellers using the links at the Open Book Publishers website. As Cancel explains in the introduction to the book, “the video record can at least give the narrators a greater presence in this discussion. If nothing else, these video records and my descriptions will provide a more direct representation and, therefore, some form of agency to the performers included here.”
More from Zambia: , 73, 179
More from the World Oral Literature series: , 82, 101.
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#48. Carpenter, Frances. African Wonder Tales. Illustrated by Joseph Escourido. Published in 1963. Pages: 215.
Frances Carpenter [1890-1972] was a folklorist and author. Her book of 24 African folktales is especially useful because most of the sources she used were in French, so you will find stories here that you will not find in other English-language story collections.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, , 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#49. Chatelain, Heli. Folk-Tales of Angola. Published in 1894. Pages: 315. [This book is in the public domain.]
Héli Chatelain [1859-1908] was a Swiss missionary and linguist. He arrived in Angola in 1885 and was assigned the task of writing a grammar and dictionary of Kimbundu for the use of other missionaries. This book of 50 folktales contains the Kimbundu text along with an English translation, plus detailed linguistic and cultural notes. Chatelain was a strong proponent of the value of both folktales and proverbs, and he also advocated a comparative approach to cultural traditions, emphasizing the connections among cultures and maintaining that “African folklore is not a tree by itself, but a branch of one universal tree.”
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, 45, , 73, 90, 108, 111, 114, 116, 127, 128, 165, 169, 180, 182, 191
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#50. Chimenti, Elisa. Tales and Legends of Morocco. Translated by Arnon Benamy. Published in 1965. Pages: 155.
Elisa Chimenti [1883-1969] was born in Italy, but her family moved to Tunis when she was a baby. When she grew up, Chimenti relocated to Morocco where she opened a school in Tangier. In addition to teaching, she was also a prolific author, writing in both French and Arabic. There are 47 stories in this book, which was originally published in French in 1959. The introduction gives an overview of the many storytelling traditions of Morocco and of Tangier in particular, and there is also a very helpful glossary.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, , 77, 88, 115, 142, 172
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#51. Clark-Bekederemo, J. P. Collected Plays and Poems, 1958-1988. With an introduction by Abiola Irele. Published in 1991. Pages: 423.
J. P. Clark-Bekederemo [1935-2020], who began his literary career publishing under the name John Pepper Clark, was a major figure in Nigerian literature. This collection of his plays and poems includes “Ozidi,” a theatrical version of the epic adventures of the Ijo hero Ozidi. The book also features an introduction by Abiola Irele [1936-2017], author of The African Imagination. In addition to this collection of Clark-Bekederemo’s poetry and plays, you can also find his 1969 collection of essays at the Internet Archive: Their America: The Nigerian Poet and Playwright’s Criticism of American Society.
Clark-Bekederemo is one of the authors included in the Twayne’s World Authors series: J. P. Clark by Robert M. Wren.
More epics: 26, 33, 40, , 83, 90, 101, 110, 148
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#52. Collins, Stanley Harold. Ananse the Spider: Why Spiders Stay on the Ceiling [Sign Language Literature series]. Illustrated by Kathy Kifer, Dahna Solar and Charla Barnard. Published in 1997. Pages: 26.
This is a fascinating version of an Ashanti story about Anansi the spider: on the left-hand page you will see the American Sign Language version, and on the right-hand page you will see the story’s text written in English with illustrations.
If you are interested in this type of bilingual sign-language book, there is another book in this same series at the Internet Archive: Fountain of Youth, a Korean Folktale.
More Spider stories: 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, , 55, 63, 64, 90, 98, 114, 136, 159, 178
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#53. Courlander, Harold and George Herzog. The Cow-tail Switch, and Other West African Stories. Illustrated by Madye Lee Chastain. Published in 1947. Pages: 143.
Harold Courlander [1908-1996] was an ethnomusicologist and folklorist who wrote many books about Africa, along with books about African American, Caribbean, and Native American storytelling traditions, plus other books about world folklore. This book was a Newbery Honor winner, and it contains 17 folktales from western Africa. Courlander’s co-author was anthropologist George Herzog [1901-1983], who collected some of the Liberian stories that appear in this book. For many more books by Courlander, see the following items.
More award-winning books: 2, 38, , 67, 69, 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, 136, 145, 181
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#54. Courlander, Harold and Wolf Leslau. The Fire on the Mountain, and Other Ethiopian Stories. Illustrated by Robert W. Kane. Published in 1950. Pages: 141.
For this book of 24 stories from Ethiopia and Eritrea, Harold Courlander collaborated with linguist Wolf Leslau [1906-2006], who was an important scholar of Ethiopian languages; for more books by Leslau, see #123 below. Courlander and Leslau later reissued this book with a slightly different title — The Fire on the Mountain, and Other Stories from Ethiopia and Eritrea — after Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1991. For more books by Courlander, see the previous and following items.
More from Ethiopia: 40, , 66, 97, 118, 119, 128
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#55. Courlander, Harold and Albert Kofi Prempeh. The Hat-Shaking Dance, and Other Tales from the Gold Coast. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. Published in 1957. Pages: 115.
This book is a collection of Ashanti stories from Ghana, which was known as the “Gold Coast” during the colonial era. Courlander’s co-author for this book was Albert Kofi Prempeh, a student from Ghana. You will find 21 stories here, many of them about Anansi. This book marks Harold Courlander‘s first collaboration with Enrico Arno [1913-1980], a Jewish artist who escaped Nazi Germany and eventually settled in the United States. Arno went on to illustrate several other books by Courlander, including #56-58 and #60 below.
More Spider stories: 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 52, , 63, 64, 90, 98, 114, 136, 159, 178
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#56. Courlander, Harold. The King’s Drum, and Other African Stories. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. Published in 1962. Pages: 125.
This book by Harold Courlander features 29 stories from a wide range of sub-Saharan storytelling traditions. Each story has an indication as to its cultural origin, and there are specific notes about Courlander’s sources in the back of the book, along with cultural and comparative analysis. Some of the stories come from previously published books, while others are stories that Courlander and his collaborators collected. Several stories come from Albert Kofi Prempeh, who was Courlander’s co-author for the previous item, #55, The Hat-Shaking Dance.
More from Enrico Arno: 55, , 57, 58, 60
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#57. Courlander, Harold and Ezekiel Eshugbayi. Olode the Hunter, and Other Tales from Nigeria. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. Published in 1968. Pages: 153.
This marks Harold Courlander‘s first collaboration with Ezekiel Eshugbayi; for another book of Nigerian folktales that they wrote together, see the following item. Most of the 29 stories in the book are from the Yoruba people, along with some Hausa and Igbo stories too. The main trickster character in this book is the Tortoise, called Ijapa (or Ajapa) in Yoruba. There are detailed notes for each story, along with a brief essay about Ijapa, plus observations about jujus, the orishas, and other elements of Yoruban culture. For more books by Courlander, see the previous and following items.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, , 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#58. Courlander, Harold and Ezekiel Eshugbayi. Ijapa the Tortoise, and Other Nigerian Tales. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. Published in 1969. Pages: 153.
This is Harold Courlander‘s second book with Ezekiel Eshugbayi; their first book, Olode the Hunter, and Other Tales from Nigeria [see the previous item] also contains Tortoise tales. In this book you’ll find 18 stories, with detailed notes in the back, per Courlander’s usual practice. Some of the stories come from previously published sources, while other stories come from oral sources, including Courlander’s co-author, Ezekiel Eshugbayi, who was from Ilesha in southwestern Nigeria. For more books by Courlander, see the previous and following items.
More Tortoise stories: , 151, 156, 187, 198, 200
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#59. Courlander, Harold. Tales of Yoruba Gods and Heroes. Illustrated by Larry Lurin. Published in 1973. Pages: 240.
Harold Courlander collected the materials in this book from Yoruba storytellers; you’ll see a list of their names in the acknowledgments. There is an introduction to Yoruba culture, followed by an overview of the main gods, heroes, and other characters. Then the stories begin: almost 200 pages of stories, plus appendices about Yoruba traditions in the Americas. There is also an appendix about Yoruba music in the Americas (Courlander was a musicologist as well as being a collector of folktales and mythology). For more books by Courlander, see the previous and following items.
More African folklore in the Americas: 22, , 100, 105, 109
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#60. Courlander, Harold. A Treasury of African Folklore. Illustrated by Enrico Arno. Published in 1975. Pages: 617.
Here’s how Harold Courlander summarizes the range of almost 300 stories contained in this massive anthology: “creation myths, myth-legends, half-legendary chronicles and historical narratives either in song or prose; tales that explain natural phenomena, tribal practices and taboos, and cultural or political institutions; stories and fables that reflect on the nature of man and his strengths and weaknesses; tales of adventure, courage, disaster, and love; epics with legendary heroes or fictitious heroes, and tales of confrontation with the supernatural and unseen forces of nature; moralizing stories and stories that define man’s place and role in the universe; riddles that amuse and teach, and proverbs that stress social values; and a virtually inexhaustible reservoir of animal tales.” For more books by Courlander, see the previous and following items.
More big — really big! — books: 42, , 73, 75, 105, 158, 167, 169, 170, 177, 179, 180, 191, 197
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#61. Courlander, Harold. The Crest and the Hide, and Other African Stories. Illustrated by Monica Vachula. Published in 1982. Pages: 137.
Like Harold Courlander‘s earlier book, The King’s Drum, and Other African Stories [see #56 above], this book is a collection of 20 stories from a variety of storytelling traditions in Africa: “stories of heroes, chiefs, bards, hunters, sorcerers, and common people” as Courlander explains. For more of Courlander’s books, see the previous items.
The beautiful illustrations are by Monica Vachula, who also did the illustrations for Tom Gilroy’s book of stories about a village in Senegal: In Bikole: Eight Modern Stories About Life in a West African Village.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, , 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#62. Creel, J. Luke and Bai Gai Kiahon. Folk Tales of Liberia. Illustrated by Carol Hoorn Fraser. Published in 1960. Pages: 144.
This is a book of Vai stories from Liberia that J. Luke Creel [1900-1985], a poet and professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College, heard from Bai Gai Kiahon. Kiahon was born in Liberia, studied medicine in Germany, and then returned to Liberia. (The book was later translated into German under the title Der Knabe und der Löwe. Geschichten und Fabeln aus Liberia.) There are 16 stories in the book, including several Spider stories. The illustrations are by Carol Hoorn Fraser [1930–1991], a Canadian artist.
More from Liberia: 46, , 74, 79, 102, 157, 161
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#63. Cronise, Florence and Henry W. Ward. Cunnie Rabbit, Mr. Spider, and the Other Beef: West African Folk Tales. Illustrated by Gerald Sichel. Published in 1903. Pages: 330. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Florence Cronise heard these stories told by Temne storytellers at a mission school in Rotifunk, Sierra Leone, where she was stationed from 1884-1889. She recorded the stories in the pidgin English of the storytellers, and Henry Ward then arranged 38 of the pidgin stories inside a frame tale written in literary English, much as Joel Chandler Harris [1848-1908] did with his Uncle Remus books. The “cunnie rabbit” of the title is not a rabbit at all; instead, this is Neotragus pygmaeus, a tiny antelope not even one foot tall who is one of the main trickster figures in the folktales of western Africa.
More from Sierra Leone: , 82, 114
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#64. Dadié, Bernard Binlin. The Black Cloth: A Collection of African Folktales. Translated by Karen C. Hatch, and with a foreword by Es’kia Mphalele. Published in 1987. Pages: 140.
Bernard Binlin Dadié [1916-2019] was a novelist and playwright from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and a leader in the anticolonial movement. This book was first published as Le Pagne Noir: Contes Africains in 1955; the English translation appeared in 1987. The book contains 11 traditional folktales plus three tales that are the product of Dadié’s own creation: “The Black Cloth,” “The Mirror of Dearth,” and “The Man Who Wanted to Be King.” Anansi is the thread that runs throughout the book; he appears in almost every story.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, , 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#65. Davis, Jennifer. The Stolen Water and Other Stories: Traditional Tales from Namibia. Illustrated by Libby Costandius. Published in 1993. Pages: 84.
This book contains 25 folktales that Jennifer Davis heard from storytellers in Namibia in southern Africa; see the acknowledgments for the storytellers’ names. Davis explains her purpose in writing the book as follows: “Many old people I visited showed concern about the fact that young people are losing their traditions. They feel that if the youth keep in touch with their past, they will have a greater pride in their identity. For that reason I have collected these stories and retold them for children to read.”
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, , 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#66. Davis, Russell and Brent Ashabranner. The Lion’s Whiskers: Tales of High Africa. Illustrated by James G. Teason. Published in 1959. Pages: 191.
Russell Davis [1922-1993] and Brent Ashabranner [1921-2016] went to Ethiopia in 1955 as part of an educational project run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and this book is a translation into English of 31 stories that they collected while traveling the country. Russell Davis went on to become a professor of education at Harvard University while Brent Ashabranner became a Peace Corps administrator, and they continued to collaborate on book projects, including Land in the Sun: The Story of West Africa.
Some years after Davis’s death, Ashabranner prepared a new edition of The Lion’s Whiskers under a slightly different title: The Lion’s Whiskers and Other Ethiopian Tales. This 1997 edition contains only half of the stories, but it does include beautiful illustrations by Helen Siegl [1924-2009]; for more art by Siegl, see #194 below.
More from Ethiopia: 40, 54, , 97, 118, 119, 128
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#67. Dayrell, Elphinstone. Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria. With an introduction by Andrew Lang. Published in 1910. Pages: 159. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Elphinstone Daryell [1869-1917] was a British colonial administrator in southern Nigeria who had an interest in anthropology and folklore. This book of 40 stories opens with comparative notes by Andrew Lang [for the African stories included in Lang’s own Fairy Books, see #121 below]. Dayrell later published a second book with 34 more Nigerian folktales: Ikom Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria.
Inspired by the story “The Sun and the Moon” in this book, Blair Lent wrote and illustrated Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky, which won the Caldecott Medal. Another of Dayrell’s stories — “Lightning and Thunder” — inspired Ashley Bryan‘s The Story of Lightning and Thunder.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, , 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#68. Dennett, Richard. Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort. Published in 1898. Pages: 169. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Richard Dennett [1857-1921] was an English ivory trader who first arrived in Africa in 1879. In addition to this collection of 32 Bakongo folktales from what was then the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Dennett also published a memoir: Seven Years among the Fjort.
In 1902 Dennett left the Congo and joined the Nigerian Forest Service. Based on his research in Nigeria, he later wrote several books about Yoruba language and culture, including Nigerian Studies: The Religious and Political System of the Yoruba.
More from the Congo: 33, 43, , 107, 167, 197
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#69. Diakité, Baba Wagué. The Hunterman and the Crocodile: A West African Folktale. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1997. Pages: 29.
Baba Wagué Diakité [b. 1961] is an artist from Mali who is now based in the United States. He both wrote and illustrated this book, which received the Coretta Scott King Award. The digital version that you will find at the Internet Archive comes from the International Children’s Digital Library, a site that has been archived by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. For more art by Diakité, see #18 above, and for more of his art and writing, see the following items.
More award-winning books: 2, 38, 53, 67, , 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, 136, 145, 181
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#70. Diakité, Baba Wagué. The Hatseller and the Monkeys: A West African Folktale. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1999. Pages: 29.
This is another folktale from West Africa written and illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité (see the previous and following items for more of his work). Following the story, Diakité explains that he first heard this folktale from his uncle, prompted by a visit from a Fulani milk-seller who was wearing two cone-shaped dibiri hats, one on top of the other. Tales similar to this one are found in many other cultures, and Diakité provides a list of parallel versions. For example, you can find another African version from the Sudan — “The Monkeys and the Little Red Hats” — in Carpenter’s African Wonder Tales, #48 above.
More from African artists: 18, 69, , 71, 74, 81, 96, 112, 118, 134, 139, 160, 164, 187, 196
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#71. Diakité, Baba Wagué. Mee-An and the Magic Serpent: A Folktale from Mali. Illustrated by the author. Published in 2007. Pages: 30.
This is yet another folktale from West Africa written and illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. In addition to the story and wonderful illustrations by the author, there are also songs with the words in both Bambara (which is one of the languages of Mali) along with the English translation. For more from Diakité, see the previous items, and also his memoir about growing up in Mali: A Gift from Childhood.
More children’s picture books: 2, 3, 4, 32, 38, 39, 52, 69, 70, , 72, 89, 94, 96, 98, 106, 115, 119, 126, 136, 141, 143, 145, 152, 172, 178, 181, 185, 186, 188, 199
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#72. Diop, Birago. Mother Crocodile: An Uncle Amadou Tale from Senegal. Translated by Rosa Guy and illustrated by John Steptoe. Published in 1981. Pages: 27.
Birago Diop [1906-1989] was a francophone poet and storyteller from Senegal and a leader of the Pan-African literary movement known as Négritude. The story in this book, “Maman-Caïman,” is one that Diop learned from Amadou Koumba, his family’s Wolof griot, and it is included in a collection of Koumba’s stories that Diop published in French: Les Contes d’Amadou Koumba. The translator, Rosa Guy [1922-2012], was a Trinidadian American author who met Diop while traveling in Senegal.
The illustrations are by John Steptoe [1950-1989], an African American artist and writer. Steptoe received a Coretta Scott King Award for this book, as he did also for the book Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters; see #181 below.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, , 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#73. Doke, Clement. Lamba Folk-Lore. Published in 1927. Pages: 570. [This book will enter the public domain in 2023.]
Clement Doke [1893-1980] was a South African missionary and linguist who specialized in the Bantu languages of central and southern Africa. This monumental book, almost 600 pages long, contains 159 stories told by the Lamba people of northern Zambia (which was called Rhodesia at the time) and the southern Congo (which was then called the Belgian Congo). The stories are presented both in Lamba and in English. There are also proverbs, riddles, and songs, plus a long introduction to the culture and language of the Lamba people. For more about the Lamba people, see Doke’s ethnographic study: The Lambas of Northern Rhodesia: A Study of Their Customs and Beliefs.
More from Zambia: 47, , 179
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#74. Dorliae, Peter. Animals Mourn for Da Leopard, and Other West African Tales. Illustrated by Solomon Irein Wangboje. Published in 1970. Pages: 69.
Peter Gondro Dorliae [b. 1935] is a writer and folklorist from Liberia; after working as a civil servant, he became Chief of the Yarwin-Mehnsonoh district upon the death of his father in 1966. The 10 stories he tells here come specifically from the Mano people who live in northeastern Liberia.
More from Liberia: 46, 62, , 79, 102, 157, 161
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#75. Dorson, Richard. African Folklore. Published in 1972. Pages: 587.
Richard Dorson [1916-1981] was a professor of folklore and director of the Folklore Institute at Indiana University; he was also the editor of the Folktales of the World series [see #77 below]. This book is an edited volume that contains a wide range of essays about African folklore along with folktale texts from Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Cameroon, Gabon, South Africa, and the Sudan; those texts occupy about 200 pages of this 600-page book.
In the essay section of the book, you will find pieces by William Bascom [see #21-22 above], Daniel Biebuyck [see #33 above], Lee Haring [see #101 below], and Harold Scheub [see #169-171 below].
More big — really big! — books: 42, 60, 73, , 105, 158, 167, 169, 170, 177, 179, 180, 191, 197
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#76. Dresser, Cynthia. The Rainmaker’s Dog: International Folktales to Build Communicative Skills. Illustrated by Kate Lannas, Katerine Moir, and Tom Paisrayi. Published in 1998. Pages: 309.
Cynthia Dresser, a specialist in English language education, wrote this textbook for use by her students in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), where she served as a member of the Peace Corps in the 1980s, and in Zimbabwe. The book contains folktales from across sub-Saharan Africa — 6 stories from Central Africa, 8 stories from Western Africa, 4 stories from Eastern Africa, 3 stories from Southern Africa — along with additional stories from Haiti and Australia. Each story is accompanied by creative learning exercises to develop comprehension and communication skills. The illustrations and text decorations are by Tom Paisrayi, an artist from Zimbabwe; Kate Lannas, also from Zimbabwe; and Katerine Moir, an artist from Eswatini.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, , 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#77. El-Shamy, Hasan. Folktales of Egypt [Folktales of the World series]. With a foreword by Richard Dorson. Published in 1980. Pages: 347.
Hasan El-Shamy [b. 1938] is a scholar of the folklore of the Arab world, including the folklore of northern Africa. For this book, he has translated 70 modern Egyptian folktales into English. El-Shamy is also the author of a monumental reference work, Types of the Folktale in the Arab World, which indexes Arab tales from both the Middle East and from Africa, including Algeria, Eritrea, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia.
For ancient Egyptian folktales, see El-Shamy’s re-edition of Gaston Maspero’s classic Popular Stories of Ancient Egypt.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, 50, , 88, 115, 142, 172
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#78. Elliot, Geraldine. Where the Leopard Passes: A Book of African Folk Tales. Illustrated by Sheila Hawkins. Published in 1949. Pages: 126.
Geraldine Elliot [d. 2003] was born in India and grew up in England, where she was “Aunt Geraldine” for a BBC children’s radio program in the early 1920s. In 1928 she went to Africa when her husband, who was in the British Colonial Service, was posted to Malawi. Elliot wrote and published four folktale books during the three decades she would spend in Malawi and later in Zimbabwe. This book features 17 Ngoni folktales about Kalulu the trickster rabbit, and the book’s title comes from a proverb about the rabbit and the leopard: “Where the leopard passes, there also Kalulu will go.” Another of Elliot’s story collections, The Long Grass Whispers, is also available at the Internet Archive.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, , 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#79. Ellis, George Washington. Negro Culture In West Africa. Illustrated with photographs. Published in 1914. Pages: 290. [This book is in the public domain.]
George Washington Ellis [1875-1919] was an African American lawyer who served in the American delegation to the Republic of Liberia. During his posting in Liberia, Ellis undertook a decade-long study of the Vai people, and in this book he provides an overview of Vai culture, along with 52 Vai folktales plus a collection of proverbs. The title of the book — Negro Culture in West Africa — reflects Ellis’s dedication to the cause of a shared identity uniting the peoples of Africa together with African Americans like himself and with the whole African Diaspora around the world.
More from Liberia: 46, 62, 74, , 102, 157, 161
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#80. Ennis, Merlin. Umbundu: Folk Tales from Angola. With comparative notes by Albert Lord. Published in 1962. Pages: 315.
Merlin Ennis [1874-1964] was a missionary who lived in Angola for forty years. After arriving in Angola in 1903, he began translating the Bible into Umbundu while also collecting Umbundu folktale texts. After he retired and returned to the United States, he published this collection of 95 Umbundu folktales translated into English, along with a collection of proverbs.
The book includes commentary on the stories by Albert Lord [1912-1991], one of the leading folklorists of the time and a specialist in oral performance and composition, best known for his book about the oral tradition of the Homeric epics: The Singer of Tales.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, , 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#81. Fairman, Tony. Bury My Bones but Keep My Words: African Tales for Retelling. Illustrated by Meshack Asare. Published in 1994. Pages: 192.
Tony Fairman wrote this book for use in schools, including notes for teachers about how to help students engage in their own storytelling activities. The 13 stories come mostly from Kenya and from southern Africa, and there are some stories from Nigeria and the Gambia also.
One of the best features of this book is the art by Meshack Asare [b. 1945], a children’s book author and illustrator from Ghana. There is another book by Asare also available at the Internet Archive — Sosu’s Call — about a boy who cannot walk but who nevertheless saves the people of his village when disaster is about to strike. A version of that story also appears in Véronique Tadjo’s Chasing the Sun, #187 below.
More from African artists: 18, 69, 70, 71, 74, , 96, 112, 118, 134, 139, 160, 164, 187, 196
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#82. Finnegan, Ruth. Limba Stories and Story-Telling [Oxford Library of African Literature series]. Published in 1967. Pages: 352.
Ruth Finnegan [b. 1933] has been a professor of anthropology and sociology at universities in Europe, Africa, and the United States. This book contains 95 Limba stories that Finnegan recorded in Sierra Leone in the 1960s, along with riddles and proverbs plus an overview of Limba storytelling traditions. Finnegan’s audio recordings have been digitized and put online as part of the World Oral Literature project, which means you can listen to them here: Ruth Finnegan: Limba Stories and Songs.
Finnegan is also the author of The Oral and Beyond: Doing Things with Words in Africa and Oral Literature in Africa, reissued as part of the World Oral Literature series.
More from Sierra Leone: 63, , 114
More from the Oxford Library of African Literature: 10, , 90, 169
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#83. Ford, Clyde. The Hero With an African Face: Mythic Wisdom of Traditional Africa. Illustrated by Tanya Pérez-Rock. Published in 2000. Pages: 228.
Clyde Ford [b. 1951] first worked as an engineer at IBM and then changed career paths, becoming a chiropractor and therapist. He wrote this book of African myths and stories in order to promote personal growth and also to further racial healing. Ford interweaves his own commentary with the stories, reading each story in three different ways, layer by layer: he starts by telling the story itself, then he looks for the story’s mythic dimensions, and finally he explores the meaning of the story in the context of human life and of his own life experience.
More from African American / Diaspora authors: 14, 15, 32, 37, 38, 39, 44, 46, 79, , 100, 102, 124, 145, 181, 195, 199
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#84. Frobenius, Leo. African Genesis: Folk Tales and Myths of Africa. Translated by Douglas C. Fox and illustrated by Kate Marr. Published in 1937. Pages: 236.
Leo Frobenius [1873-1938] was a German anthropologist and archeologist. This book, translated from German, is an anthology of 29 stories from a range of African cultures, including the Kabyle people of northern Africa; the Mande, Nupe, and Hausa peoples of western Africa; and the Ngoni and Hungwe peoples of southern Africa. The book also contains numerous drawings of African art from the Frobenius Institute at Goethe University in Frankfurt. You can find other English books by Frobenius at the Internet Archive also, including The Voice of Africa and The Childhood of Man.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, , 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#85. Fuchs, Peter. African Decameron: Folk Tales from Central Africa. Translated by Robert Meister. Published in 1963. Pages: 203.
Peter Fuchs [1928-2020] was an Austrian anthropologist. He published Afrikanisches Dekamerone in 1959, and the English translation appeared in 1963. The book contains 48 tales from the Hadjerai people of Chad, specifically from a small village named Mukulu on Mount Guéra (the name “Hadjerai” is itself an Arabic word, meaning “the mountain people”). In addition to the stories, Fuchs interweaves information about the village of Mukulu and about the culture of the Hadjerai people.
More from central Africa: 6, , 147, 174, 183
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#86. Fuja, Abayomi. Fourteen Hundred Cowries, and Other African Tales. Illustrated by Ademola Olugebefola, and with an introduction by Anne Pellowski. Published in 1971. Pages: 256.
Abayomi Fuja [b. 1900] originally collected these 31 stories in Nigeria in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He first published the book in 1962 with the title: Fourteen Hundred Cowries: Traditional Stories of the Yoruba. This new edition, re-titled Fourteen Hundred Cowries, and Other African Tales, appeared in 1971 and features beautiful illustrations by Ademola Olugebefola [b. 1941], one of the leading figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. The introduction by Anne Pellowski [b. 1933] provides an overview of Yoruba storytelling traditions.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, , 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#87. Gibbs, Laura. Tiny Tales from Africa: The Animals [Volume 1]. Published in 2021. Pages: 230.
This book is part of the Tiny Tales series by Laura Gibbs [b. 1964]. It contains 200 animal stories retold from a wide variety of African sources, and each story is just 100 words long. There are creation myths; tales about Spider, Tortoise, Rabbit, and other tricksters; plus stories of adventure and magic involving humans and animals. There is also a second volume available — Tiny Tales from Africa: The Animals [Volume 2] — and you can find all the other books in the Tiny Tales series at the Internet Archive.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, , 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#88. Gilstrap, Robert and Irene Estabrook. The Sultan’s Fool, and Other North African Tales. Illustrated by Robert Greco. Published in 1958. Pages: 95.
Robert Gilstrap [1933-2013] and Irene Estabrook collected these stories in the mid-1950s while Gilstrap was stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in Tripoli and Estabrook was a teacher at the base school. Arabic is the main language spoken in Libya, and the 11 stories in this book reflect Arabic storytelling traditions with tales of sultans and caliphs, viziers and their courtiers, along with court jesters and fools.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, 50, 77, , 115, 142, 172
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#89. Gleeson, Brian. Koi and the Kola Nuts. Illustrated by Reynold Ruffins. Published in 1995. Pages: 27.
Brian Gleeson wrote this book for the Rabbit Ears series, a project by the same company that produced the Rabbit Ears television show in the 1980s and early 1990s. The book features beautiful illustrations by Reynold Ruffins [see #5 above]. Gleeson wrote several other books for this Rabbit Ears series, including Anansi, which is based on Jamaican Anansi stories.
A Liberian version of the story — “Koi and the Kola Nuts” — appeared in 1960 in Tales from the Story Hat by Verna Aardema with illustrations by Elton Fax [1909-1993], an African American artist who illustrated several of Aardema’s early books, including The Sky-God Stories, Otwe, and The Na of Wa.
More children’s picture books: 2, 3, 4, 32, 38, 39, 52, 69, 70, 71, 72, , 94, 96, 98, 106, 115, 119, 126, 136, 141, 143, 145, 152, 172, 178, 181, 185, 186, 188, 199
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#90. Goody, Jack. The Myth of the Bagre [Oxford Library of African Literature series]. Illustrated with photographs. Published in 1972. Pages: 381.
Jack Goody [1919-2015] was a social anthropologist at Cambridge University who worked with the Lodagaa people in Ghana throughout the 1950s and 1960s. This book focuses on the ritual ceremonies associated with the Bagre myth, presented here both in the original Lodagaa language and in English translation. One part, the White Bagre, sets the ritual in motion, while the other part, the Black Bagre, provides a cosmic dimension, narrating the adventures of a culture hero who makes an ascent to heaven accompanied by Spider. Goody was the author of many other books that you can find at the Internet Archive, including Technology, Tradition, and the State in Africa.
More from the Oxford Library of African Literature: 10, 82, , 169
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#91. Grainger, Lisa. Stories Gogo Told Me. Illustrated by Celia von Poncet and with a foreword by Iman. Published in 2015. Pages: 190.
In this book Lisa Grainger [b. 1964] has retold 44 stories that she heard from grandmothers (gogos) and other storytellers in her own home country of Zimbabwe, and also in Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. For each story, she provides the storyteller’s name and additional information; for example: “told to me in Bemba by Godfrey Chanda, a subsistence farmer near Kalamazi rose farm, outside Lusaka, Zambia.” The book also features a forward by Iman [b. 1955], who grew up in Somalia in eastern Africa and who fondly remembers the traditional stories she heard from her father: “those stories, like stars, illuminated my path when I was lost.”
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, , 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#92. Greaves, Nick. When Hippo Was Hairy, and Other Tales from Africa. Illustrated by Rod Clement. Published in 1988. Pages: 144.
Nick Greaves [b. 1955] first came from England to Africa in 1976. He worked as a geologist in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. He now lives in England, working as a writer and photographer while also leading safaris in eastern Africa. A distinctive feature of Greaves’s approach is that he includes detailed geographical and ecological information about the animals who appear in the 36 stories in this book.
You can also find two other books by Greaves at the Internet Archive, both focused on animal stories: When Lion Could Fly, and Other Tales from Africa and When Elephant Was King, and Other Elephant Tales from Africa.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, , 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#93. Green, Lila. Tales from Africa [The World Folktale Library series]. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and with an introduction by Moritz Jagendorf. Published in 1979. Pages: 96.
In this book Lila Green has retold 10 stories from both western and eastern Africa. What makes the book especially noteworthy is that it features illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.
The introduction is by Moritz Jagendorf [1888-1981], who was the editor of the World Folktale Library series. You can find other books from the World Folktale Library at the Internet Archive, including Ancient Greece, the British Isles, Hispanic Lands (also by Lila Green), Russia, and the United States,
More from Jerry Pinkney: 4, 14, 15, , 199
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#94. Grifalconi, Ann. The Village of Round and Square Houses. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1986. Pages: 31.
Ann Grifalconi [1929-2020] wrote this Caldecott Honor book after a trip she made to Cameroon. The story is based on a folktale that she heard in a village located in the foothills of one of Cameroon’s volcanoes, and she later wrote two more books inspired by this same village: Darkness and the Butterfly and Osa’s Pride.
In addition to Grifalconi’s Africa-themed books [see #32 above and #152 below], she wrote and also illustrated books on African American subjects, including Ain’t Nobody a Stranger to Me, a book about the Underground Railroad which Grifalconi wrote and Jerry Pinkney illustrated, and The Jazz Man, a Newbery Honor book by Grifalconi’s mother, Mary Hays Weik [1898–1979], which Grifalconi illustrated.
More from Cameroon: 27, , 188
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#95. Guillot, René. African Folk Tales. Translated by Gwen Marsh and illustrated by William Papas. Published in 1964. Pages: 160.
René Guillot [1900-1969], who was born in France, lived and worked for twenty years in what was then French West Africa (now Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger). He was the author of many children’s books in French, and this book contains 23 folktales selected from his books La Biche Noire, La Brousse et la Bête, Au Pays des Bêtes Sauvages, and Nouveaux Contes d’Afrique. The illustrations are by William Papas [1927-2000], a cartoonist, artist, and writer who was born in South Africa.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, , 105, 131, 132, 147, 150, 160, 166
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#96. Guirma, Frédéric. Princess of the Full Moon. Translated by John Garrett and illustrated by the author. Published in 1969. Pages: 30.
Frédéric Guirma [b. 1931] is a Mossi writer and politician from Burkina Faso. He was born in Ouagadougou, the capital of what was then Upper Volta; the country’s name was changed to Burkina Faso in 1984. When Upper Volta gained its independence in 1960, Guirma became his country’s first ambassador to the United States, and he later had a career as a United Nations diplomat. Guirma wrote this book in French based on stories he heard as a child, and he also provided the beautiful illustrations.
More from African artists: 18, 69, 70, 71, 74, 81, , 112, 118, 134, 139, 160, 164, 187, 196
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#97. Habte-Mariam, Mesfin. The Rich Man and the Singer: Folktales from Ethiopia. Illustrated by Christine Price. Published in 1971. Pages: 86.
Mesfin Habte-Mariam collected these 31 stories when he was a university student in Addis Ababa. Some stories come from his mother, and others come from his teachers and friends. He later collaborated with Elizabeth Laird [see #118 below] in the Ethiopian Folktales online project. Christine Price [1928-1980], the author of many folktale and art books, met Habte-Mariam when she visited Ethiopia in 1968; she edited this book and provided the illustrations.
More from Ethiopia: 40, 54, 66, , 118, 119, 128
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#98. Haley, Gail. A Story, A Story: An African Tale. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1970. Pages: 32.
Gail Haley [b. 1939] wrote and illustrated this Caldecott Medal book about the adventures of Spider with illustrations depicting Spider in his human form. In telling the story, Haley makes good use of epithets and ideophones to convey a sense of oral storytelling style; for example, Osebo the leopard is “the leopard-of-the-terrible-teeth,” and Spider runs “yiridi yiridi yiridi” along the path to escape him.
More Spider stories: 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 52, 55, 63, 64, 90, , 114, 136, 159, 178
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#99. Hambly, Wilfrid. Talking Animals. Illustrated by James Porter. Published in 1949. Pages: 100.
Wilfrid Hambly [1886-1962], an anthropologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, was a member of the Field Museum’s expedition to Angola, which Hambly documented with an ethnographic study, The Ovimbundu of Angola. Hambly also worked with storytellers in Nigeria, and this children’s book contains 45 stories both from Angola and from Nigeria. The illustrations are by James Porter [1905-1970], an African American artist who was also a professor of art at Howard University; his groundbreaking book, Modern Negro Art, was published in 1943.
More from African American / Diaspora artists: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, 37, 38, 39, 72, 86, 89, 93, , 102, 104, 110, 145, 154, 157, 176, 181, 186, 195, 199
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#100. Hamilton, Virginia. A Ring of Tricksters: Animal Tales from America, the West Indies, and Africa. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Published in 1997. Pages: 111.
Virginia Hamilton [1936-2002] was one of the great children’s authors of the 20th century. Most of her books are about African American stories and characters, and in this book she brings together African American tricksters with tricksters from Caribbean and African storytelling traditions; the 4 African stories come from Sierra Leone and Mozambique.
The beautiful illustrations are by Barry Moser [b. 1940], who also did the illustrations for two other books by Virginia Hamilton: When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing, which is a collection of African American folktales, and In the Beginning, a Newbery-winning book of creation stories from around the world, including two African creation stories.
More African folklore in the Americas: 22, 59, , 105, 109
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#101. Haring, Lee. How to Read a Folktale: The Ibonia Epic from Madagascar [World Oral Literature Project series]. Published in 2013. Pages: 152.
Lee Haring [b. 1930] began studying African folk traditions when he taught in Kenya and Madagascar during the 1970s; he later became a professor at the City University of New York. He has published several books on the storytelling traditions of Madagascar, including this book on the Ibonia epic, which is the first complete English translation of the epic. Ibonia is the name of the hero — more specifically, he is Iboniamasiboniamanoro, “he of the clear and captivating glance.” In addition to the translation of the epic, Haring provides an overview of the cultural context and history of the epic text.
More from the World Oral Literature series: 47, 82, 
More epics: 26, 33, 40, 51, 83, 90, , 110, 148
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#102. Haskett, Edythe. Grains of Pepper: Folktales from Liberia. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1967. Pages: 120.
Edythe Haskett worked as a teacher in Liberia in the 1960s where she collected these 25 Vai folktales and proverbs. The book’s title alludes to the names “Pepper Coast” and “Grain Coast” that were used by European traders in reference to the melegueta pepper, or “grain of paradise,” a pepper-like spice that grows in Liberia. Haskett provides a brief overview of the history of Liberia in the book’s introduction, with an emphasis on the American Colonization Society and the African Americans who settled in Liberia in the 19th century.
More from Liberia: 46, 62, 74, 79, , 157, 161
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#103. Heady, Eleanor. Jambo, Sungura! Tales from East Africa. Illustrated by Robert Frankenberg. Published in 1965. Pages: 95.
Eleanor Heady [1917-1979] traveled to Africa in the late 1950s with her husband, Harold Heady, a forester and ecologist. On those travels she collected these 16 stories from Swahili storytellers. “Sungura” in the book’s title is the Swahili name for rabbit; “jambo” is Swahili for “hey” or “hello.” Throughout the book, Heady uses the Swahili names for the animals, so the hippopotamus is Kiboko, the elephant is Tembo, and so on. For another book by Heady, see the following item.
More Rabbit stories: 3, 4, 78, , 131, 146, 185
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#104. Heady, Eleanor. When the Stones Were Soft: East African Fireside Tales. Illustrated by Tom Feelings. Published in 1968. Pages: 94.
This is another book by Eleanor Heady [see previous item], featuring 14 stories from eastern Africa that she collected in the late 1950s during her travels in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. For this collection, Heady focused on “how-and-why” stories: how animals got their tails, why goats live with people, etc.
The illustrations for this book are by Tom Feelings [1933-2003], who also illustrated two Caldecott Medal books about Swahili words and numbers written by his wife, Muriel Feelings [1938-2011]: Jambo Means Hello: A Swahili Alphabet Book and Moja Means One: A Swahili Counting Book.
More from eastern Africa: 103, , 116, 120, 127, 137, 144, 175
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#105. Herskovits, Melville and Frances Herskovits. Dahomean Narrative: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Published in 1958. Pages: 490.
Melville Herskovits [1895-1963] and his wife Frances Herskovits [1897-1972] studied African cultures and also African cultural legacies in the Americas. This book presents 155 stories that they collected in Benin (French Dahomey at that time) from Fon storytellers in the 1930s. The detailed notes make it a work of great scholarship (almost 600 pages long), but it is also very readable for a general audience. In addition, they published an ethnography of the people of Dahomey: Dahomey, An Ancient West African Kingdom.
To learn about Melville Herskovits’s advocacy for the importance of African cultural heritage in the Americas, see his groundbreaking book, The Myth of the Negro Past.
More big — really big! — books: 42, 60, 73, 75, , 158, 167, 169, 170, 177, 179, 180, 191, 197
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#106. Hofmeyr, Dianne. The Magic Bojabi Tree. Illustrated by Piet Grobler. Published in 2013. Pages: 26.
Dianne Hofmeyr [b. 1947] is a South African writer now based in London, and the marvelous illustrations are by Piet Grobler [b. 1959], also from South Africa and now based in the U.K. [For more art from Grobler, see #146.]
You can find an earlier version of this story published in 1923 by Edith Rickert [1871–1938] with illustrations by Gleb Botkin [1900-1969]: The Bojabi Tree. Rickert’s source was an even earlier book: Robert Nassau’s Where Animals Talk, which features a story called “Tortoise and the Bojabi Tree” from a Benga storyteller in Equatorial Guinea; see #147 below.
More children’s picture books: 2, 3, 4, 32, 38, 39, 52, 69, 70, 71, 72, 89, 94, 96, 98, , 115, 119, 126, 136, 141, 143, 145, 152, 172, 178, 181, 185, 186, 188, 199
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#107. Holladay, Virginia. Bantu Tales. Illustrated by Rocco Negri and with a foreword by Louise Crane. Published in 1970. Pages: 95.
Virginia Holladay [1899-1951], a Presbyterian missionary, worked as a schoolteacher in what was then the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) from 1927 until her death in 1951. Over the years, Holladay collected these stories from Baluba and Lulua storytellers and distributed them in booklets to her friends and family. One of Holladay’s students, Louise Crane [1917-2006], later selected 19 of those stories and published them in this book in 1970, which also includes beautiful woodcuts by Rocco Negri [1932-2012]. The book opens with a brief biography of Virginia Holladay, and you can read more about Holladay in Crane’s memoir, Ku Mputu: An African Journey.
More from the Congo: 33, 43, 68, , 167, 197
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#108. Hollis, Alfred Claud. The Masai: Their Language and Folklore. Published in 1905. Pages: 359. [This book is in the public domain.]
Alfred Hollis [1874-1961] was a British colonial administrator in Africa from the 1890s through the 1920s, mostly in eastern Africa, and he was then governor of Trinidad from 1930 until his retirement in 1936. This book, published in 1905, contains a grammar of the language spoken by the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania (then British East Africa), along with 36 stories presented both in the original Maasai version and in English translation, along with proverbs and riddles, plus an account of traditional Maasai cultural practices and beliefs. This book has been a source of stories for several children’s book authors, including Verna Aardema [see #3 above] and Melinda Lilly [see #126 below].
In addition to this book about the Maasai people, Hollis also published a book about the Nandi people of Kenya: The Nandi: Their Language and Folklore.
More from the Maasai people: 3, , 126, 134, 143
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#109. Ibekwe, Patrick. Wit and Wisdom of Africa: Proverbs from Africa and the Caribbean. Published in 1998. Pages: 210.
Patrick Ibekwe [b. 1964], born in Nigeria and now living in London, has collected proverbs from all over Africa and also from the Caribbean. The proverbs are organized by theme, and for each proverb Ibekwe provides information about the proverb’s origin. There is also a detailed bibliography in the back of the book and a helpful map of the African diaspora. Ibekwe also published an abridged version of this book under the title The Little Book of African Wisdom.
More African folklore in the Americas: 22, 59, 100, 105, 
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#110. Jablow, Alta. Gassire’s Lute: A West African Epic. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1971. Pages: 64.
Alta Jablow [1919-1992] was a professor of anthropology at Brooklyn College, and in this book she has retold the story of Gassire’s lute, an epic of the Soninke people of the old empire of Wagadou in western Africa, with beautiful illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon [see #1-3 above and #145 and #176 below]. The story of Gassire’s lute does not have the same rich oral tradition as other African epics, and the only published source for this story is a version recorded by Frobenius [see #84 above].
Jablow is also the author of a collection of African folktales, Yes and No: The Intimate Folklore of Africa, and The Myth of Africa, an anthology of British writing that documents the colonial imagination, co-authored with Dorothy Hammond [1917-1980].
More epics: 26, 33, 40, 51, 83, 90, 101, , 148
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#111. Jacottet, Édouard. The Treasury of Ba-suto Lore. Published in 1908. Pages: 287. [This book is in the public domain.]
Édouard Jacottet [1858-1920] was a French missionary in Lesotho for over thirty years, and he was also a linguist. In collecting and publishing these Sotho stories, Jacottet was inspired by the work of Callaway in collecting Zulu stories [see #45 above]. Like Callaway, Jacottet published both the original versions of the stories in addition to the English translation. You will find 42 folktales in this book, accompanied by very useful notes.
For literary renderings of some of these stories, see McPherson’s Native Fairy Tales of South Africa, #138 below.
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, 45, 49, 73, 90, 108, , 114, 116, 127, 128, 165, 169, 180, 182, 191
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#112. Jordan, A. C. Tales from Southern Africa. Illustrated by Dumile Feni, with a foreword by Pallo Jordan, and an introduction by Harold Scheub. Published in 1973. Pages: 277.
Archibald Campbell Jordan [1906-1968] was a South African novelist and also a scholar of African languages and literature. Forced into exile in 1961, Jordan became a professor at the University of Wisconsin, where he encouraged Harold Scheub [see #169 below] to study Xhosa storytelling traditions; Scheub wrote the introduction to this book, and there is a foreword by Jordan’s son, Pallo Jordan [b. 1942], a South African politician. The book contains 13 traditional Xhosa stories, and the illustrations are by Dumile Feni [1942-1991], a Xhosa artist from South Africa who, like Jordan, was exiled because of his opposition to the apartheid regime.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, , 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#113. Kalibala, Ernest Balintuma and Mary Gould Davis. Wakaima and the Clay Man, and Other African Folktales. Illustrated by Avery Johnson. Published in 1946. Pages: 145.
Ernest Balintuma Kalibala [b. 1902] grew up in Uganda where he attended missionary schools, and in 1924 he came to the United States to pursue his education at the Tuskegee Institute. He eventually came into contact with Franz Boas at Columbia University and later completed his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1946. In this book, he has retold 13 traditional folktales from his childhood, and there is also an author’s note at the end of the book about traditional Baganda storytelling. His coauthor, Mary Gould Davis [1882-1956], was a librarian at the New York Public Library where she was the “supervisor of storytelling” for over 20 years.
More from Uganda: 23, , 149, 176
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#114. Kilson, Marion. Royal Antelope and Spider: West African Mende Tales. Published in 1976. Pages: 374.
Marion Dusser de Barenne Kilson [b. 1936] worked with Mende storytellers in Sierra Leone as a graduate student in 1959 and 1960; her husband, the political scientist Martin Kilson [1931-2019], was also conducting research in Sierra Leone at the time. Marion Kilson later returned to Sierra Leone in 1972 for further research and then published this book, which contains 100 Mende folktales in both the original Mende and in English translation. The introduction provides an overview of Mende culture along with detailed information about Mende storytelling traditions.
The “royal antelope” of the title is the Neotragus pygmaeus, a tiny antelope that is not even one foot tall, also called “cunnie rabbit” in the pidgin English of Sierra Leone; see #63 above for Florence Cronise’s collection of “cunnie rabbit” stories.
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, 45, 49, 73, 90, 108, 111, , 116, 127, 128, 165, 169, 180, 182, 191
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#115. Kimmel, Eric. Rimonah of the Flashing Sword: A North African Tale. Illustrated by Omar Rayyan. Published in 1995. Pages: 31.
Eric Kimmel [b. 1946] based this story on a Jewish folktale from Egypt that he found in Miriam’s Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from around the World by Howard Schwartz [see #172 below for more from Howard Schwartz]. The beautiful illustrations are by Omar Rayyan [b. 1968], an artist from Jordan now based in the United States.
Kimmel is also the author of a series of books inspired by Spider stories, including Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, Anansi Goes Fishing, Anansi and the Talking Melon, Anansi’s Party Time and Anansi and the Magic Stick.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, 50, 77, 88, , 142, 172
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#116. Kituku, Vincent Muli Wa. East African Folktales from the Voice of Mukamba [World Storytelling series]. Illustrated by Kelly Matthews. Published in 1997. Pages: 95.
Vincent Kituku was born in Kangundo, Kenya. After graduating from the University of Nairobi in 1985, he came to the United States for his graduate education, completing a Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming; he is now a motivational storyteller and writer based in Idaho. In this book Kituku shares 18 traditional Kamba folktales from Kenya, including both the Kamba text and an English translation.
Kituku is also the author of an illustrated bilingual collection of Kamba-English proverbs: Sukulu Ite Nguta: The School with No Walls.
More from eastern Africa: 103, 104, , 120, 127, 137, 144, 175
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#117. Knappert, Jan. African Mythology: An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend [Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend series]. Illustrated by Elizabeth Knappert. Published in 1995. Pages: 272.
Jan Knappert [1927-2005] was a Dutch academic who taught at European and African universities. He specialized in Swahili language and literature, while also studying a wide range of African and other world literatures. This book is labeled an “encyclopedia,” but the entries are very story-oriented. Given the limited bibliography, this is not really a reference work, but it is a pleasure to read, providing a good overview of stories from across Africa.
Knappert is also the author of Kings, Gods and Spirits from African Mythology, along with other mythology handbooks including Indian Mythology and Pacific Mythology. You can also find one of his Swahili works at the Internet Archive: Traditional Swahili Poetry.
More secondary literature: 26, , 129, 145, 158, 159, 171, 198
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#118. Laird, Elizabeth. When the World Began: Stories Collected in Ethiopia. Illustrated by Yosef Kebede, Emma Harding, Grizelda Holderness, and Lydia Monks. Published in 2000. Pages: 96.
Elizabeth Laird [b. 1943] is a British author who has worked extensively with Ethiopian storytellers. She heard these 20 stories during her travels in Ethiopia in the 1990s, and there are illustrations from several artists, including Yosef Kebede, an Ethiopian artist based in Addis Ababa who also illustrated Laird’s novel about the street children of Addis Ababa: The Garbage King. You can learn more about Laird’s work in Ethiopia in this memoir: The Lure of the Honey Bird: The Storytellers of Ethiopia.
In addition to her published books, Laird’s website — Ethiopian Folktales — features hundreds of folktales in Amharic and in English [accessible also via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine]. For more from Laird, see the following items.
More from Ethiopia: 40, 54, 66, 97, , 119, 128
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#119. Laird, Elizabeth and Abba Aregawi Wolde Gabriel. The Miracle Child: A Story from Ethiopia. With illustrations from an 18th-century Ethiopian manuscript. Published in 1985. Pages: 30.
This book by Elizabeth Laird tells the story of a 13th-century Ethiopian saint, Tekle Haymanot. Laird’s coauthor is Abba Aregawi Wolde Gabriel, a priest in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Saint Tekle Haymanot was a historical figure, although this book emphasizes the legendary stories told about him, beginning with his miraculous birth. The beautiful illustrations are from an 18th-century Ethiopian manuscript held in a collection in London, and the book contains helpful notes accompanying the images, identifying the characters and important details. For more books by Laird, see the previous and following items.
More children’s picture books: 2, 3, 4, 32, 38, 39, 52, 69, 70, 71, 72, 89, 94, 96, 98, 106, 115, , 126, 136, 141, 143, 145, 152, 172, 178, 181, 185, 186, 188, 199
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#120. Laird, Elizabeth. The Ogress and the Snake, and Other Stories from Somalia. Illustrated by Shelley Fowles. Published in 2009. Pages: 96.
Elizabeth Laird first visited Somalia in the late 1960s. Then, thirty years later, she returned to the Somali region of Ethiopia where she collected these 8 stories in the town of Jigjiga; the introduction tells you about the storytellers she met and worked with there. The book also features illustrations by Shelley Fowles [b. 1956], an artist from South Africa now based in the U.K. You can find more stories from the Somali region of Ethiopia at Laird’s Ethiopian Folktales website; see #118 above.
More from eastern Africa: 103, 104, 116, , 127, 137, 144, 175
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#121. Lang, Andrew. African Folktales in the Fairy Books of Andrew Lang. Edited by Laura Gibbs and illustrated by Henry Justice Ford. Published in 2021. Pages: 316. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Andrew Lang [1844-1912], a Scottish writer and folklorist, published twelve Fairy Books with stories from around the world, starting with the Blue Fairy Book in 1897 and ending with the Lilac Fairy Book in 1910. Of those twelve books, eight contain African folktales, and this ebook assembles all 25 African folktales from those books, including the original illustrations by Henry Justice Ford [1860-1941].
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, , 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#122. Larson, Thomas. Tales from the Okavango. Illustrated by Rufus Papenfus. Published in 2002. Pages: 118.
The 19 stories in this book come from the Hambukushu people of the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Thomas Larson [b. 1917] was a cultural anthropologist who lived with the Hambukushu people in the 1950s; he published this book in 1972. The beautiful illustrations are by Rufus Papenfus [1927-2012], a South African artist and cartoonist.
Larson also wrote a short novella, Dibebe’s Choice, published in 1978, about a young Hambukushu man who is choosing whether to go to South Africa to work in the mining industry or to continue his schooling.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, , 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#123. Leslau, Charlotte and Wolf Leslau. African Folk Tales. Illustrated by Grisha Dotzenko. Published in 1963. Pages: 62.
Wolf Leslau [see #54 above] was a linguist specializing in the Semitic languages of Ethiopia, and he also studied the languages of Yemen and South Arabia. He and his wife, Charlotte Leslau [1910-1998], wrote this anthology of 25 African folktales. Charlotte and Wolf Leslau also wrote a book of African Proverbs. Both books are enjoyable to read, but they do not contain any bibliographical references, so they are not well-suited to any kind of research work.
More proverbs: 27, 39, 42, 82, 109, 116, , 154, 156, 165, 167, 182
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#124. Lester, Julius. How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have? Illustrated by David Shannon. Published in 1989. Pages: 72.
Julius Lester [1939-2018] was an African American writer and civil rights activist who taught for many years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In this book, Lester has retold 10 African folktales, along with two Jewish legends. (In 1982, Lester converted to Judaism, prompted by reflections on his own ancestry: his maternal great-grandfather was a Jewish immigrant from Germany who married a freed slave.)
Another must-read from Julius Lester is his brilliant retelling of the Brer Rabbit stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris, most of which are African in origin: Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales, with beautiful illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.
More from African American / Diaspora authors: 14, 15, 32, 37, 38, 39, 44, 46, 79, 83, 100, 102, , 145, 181, 195, 199
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#125. Lewis-Williams, J. David. Stories That Float from Afar: Ancestral Folklore of the San of Southern Africa. Published in 2000. Pages: 285.
David Lewis-Williams [b. 1934] is a South African archeologist and anthropologist who specializes in the rock art of the San peoples of southern Africa. This book contains 34 San stories arranged by topics — stories about Mantis and his family, other animal stories, accounts of hunters, shamans, and more — plus a lengthy introduction with a detailed and deeply moving account of the San storytellers who told their stories to Wilhelm Bleek and to his sister-in-law Lucy Lloyd; see #35 above for more about Bleek and Lloyd.
Lewis-Williams is the author of other books about the San people, including San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences, and he has also written about Neolithic art and culture: The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art.
More from the San people: 35, , 173
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#126. Lilly, Melinda. Warrior Son of a Warrior Son: A Masai Tale [African Tales and Myths series]. Illustrated by Charles Reasoner. Published in 1998. Pages: 29.
Melinda Lilly [b. 1963] wrote this book based on a Maasai story in A. C. Hollis’s book of Maasai legends [see #108 above]: “The Caterpillar and the Wild Animals.” You can see a different treatment of the same story by Verna Aardema in Who’s in Rabbit’s House? [see #3 above] and by Tololwa Mollel in Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper [see #143 below]. In her version of the story, Lilly has framed the storytelling scene as a grandmother telling the story to her granddaughter.
The beautiful illustrations are by Charles Reasoner [b. 1949], who collaborated with Lilly on several other books in this African Tales and Myths series, including Wanyana and Matchmaker Frog: A Bagandan Tale, Kwian and the Lazy Sun: a San Myth, Spider and His Son Find Wisdom: An Akan Tale and Zimani’s Drum: A Malawian Tale. For more of Reasoner’s artwork, see Emerald Tree: A Story from Africa and The Golden Flower: A Story from Egypt both by Janet Palazzo-Craig.
More from the Maasai people: 3, 108, , 134, 143
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#127. Lindblom, Gerhard. Kamba Tales of Animals. Published in 1928. Pages: 111. [This book will enter the public domain in 2024.]
Gerhard Lindblom [1887-1969] was a Swedish anthropologist who worked with the Akamba people in eastern Africa during the 1910s. He published a series of three books of Kamba folklore: volume 1 contains animal tales, volume 2 contains supernatural stories and volume 3 contains riddles, proverbs, and songs. These books are not available at the Internet Archive, but you can find the animal stories as originally published in volume 20 of the Archives d’Études Orientales, starting on p. 488. Lindblom provides the Kamba text for 30 animal tales with an English translation, plus detailed notes and commentary for each story. You can also find the 32 supernatural stories in that same volume, starting on p. 614.
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, 45, 49, 73, 90, 108, 111, 114, 116, , 128, 165, 169, 180, 182, 191
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#128. Littmann, Enno. Tales, Customs, Names and Dirges of the Tigre Tribes. Published in 1915. Pages: 344. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Enno Littmann [1875-1958] was a German linguist who, in 1905, lived with the Tigre people of Eritrea in what was then Abyssinia. He later published five books documenting what he learned about Tigre culture: volume 1 contains the Tigre texts of 80 folktales, plus accounts of folk beliefs and customs; volume 2 contains the English translations of those texts; volume 3 contains the Tigre texts of the songs that Littmann collected; and volume 4A and volume 4B contain German translations of the songs.
Littmann also wrote a book about Queen of Sheba stories in Ethiopia: The Legend of the Queen of Sheba in the Tradition of Axum. For more about the legends of the Queen of Sheba, see Budge’s English translation of the Kebra Nagast above, #40.
More from Ethiopia: 40, 54, 66, 97, 118, 119, 
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#129. Lynch, Patricia Ann. African Mythology A to Z. Published in 2004. Pages: 137.
The “A to Z” in the title of this book gives the impression that it’s a kind of encyclopedia, but it’s more of a storybook, with the stories arranged alphabetically based on the main characters — African gods and goddesses along with heroines and heroes, supernatural beings, and also sacred geography. Some folkloric characters are included too, like Abu Nowas. The bibliography is limited, so this is more of a book to read for fun and exploration, much like Knappert’s African Mythology, #117 above. For research purposes, Peek’s African Folklore: An Encyclopedia [see #158 below] is a better choice.
Lynch is also the author of a similar project for Native American traditions that you can find at the Internet Archive: Native American Mythology A to Z.
More secondary literature: 26, 117, , 145, 158, 159, 171, 198
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#130. Madan, Arthur. Kiungani, or: Story and History from Central Africa. Published in 1887. Pages: 291. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Arthur Madan [1846-1917] was a missionary and also a linguist. He arrived in Zanzibar in 1880 as part of the Anglican Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, and while there he compiled a Swahili dictionary and grammar, completing the work begun by Edward Steere [see #180 below]. The 31 stories in this book were written by students of the St. Andrew’s mission school at Kiungani in Zanzibar, and Madan then translated the stories into English.
In 1906 Madan was transferred to Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), where he wrote a Lala-Lamba Handbook that contains a dozen folktales in Lala and Lamba, along with English translations — and you can also find many more Lamba folktales in Doke’s Lamba Folklore [see #73 above].
More Swahili stories: 4, 25, , 180
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#131. Magel, Emil. Folktales from the Gambia: Wolof Fictional Narratives. With a preface by Edris Makward. Published in 1984. Pages: 208.
This book by Emil Magel [b. 1945], a professor of African languages and literature at Kentucky State University, features 45 Wolof stories that he recorded during visits to the Gambia in the early 1970s and then translated into English. Many of the stories are animal stories, including tales of Leuk the rabbit and Bouki the hyena. Magel has arranged the stories by themes, and he provides an introduction putting the stories in cultural context. In addition, there is a very informative and thought-provoking preface by Edris Makward, a professor of African languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin who was born in the Gambia.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, 95, 105, , 132, 147, 150, 160, 166
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#132. Mama, Raouf. Why Goats Smell Bad, and Other Stories from Benin. Illustrated by Imna Arroyo. Published in 1998. Pages: 138.
Raouf Mama [b. 1956] is a storyteller from Benin and also a professor of literature at Eastern Connecticut State University. In this book he shares 20 folktales from the Fon people of Benin. The stories are illustrated with wonderful woodcuts by Imna Arroyo [b. 1951], a Puerto Rican artist who is also on the faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University.
In addition, Mama is the editor of The Barefoot Book of Tropical Tales, a collection of folktales that includes three African tales, along with stories from South Asia and the Caribbean; see #141 below for more about the Barefoot Books series.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, , 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#133. Mandela, Nelson. Favorite African Folktales. With illustrations by many artists. Published in 2007. Pages: 143.
Nelson Mandela [1918-2013], was a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Imprisoned for 27 years, he later became the President of South Africa, serving in that office from 1994 until 1999; he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. This selection of 32 folktales chosen by Nelson Mandela as his favorites first appeared in 2002, followed by this fully illustrated edition in 2007. Most of the stories come from southern Africa, but there are also stories from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Morocco.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, , 155, 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#134. Mbugua, Kioi wa. Inkishu: Myths and Legends of the Maasai. With photographs by Adrian Arbib and illustrations by Kang’ara wa Njambi, Samwel Ngoje, Kahare Miano, and Godfrey Nyotumba. Published in 1994. Pages: 73.
Kioi wa Mbugua, with funding from Oxfam International, visited Maasailand (specifically the Narok district of Kenya) to document these 4 stories told by a traditional Maasai storyteller named Ole Parkisua. The word “Inkishu” in the Maa language means “cattle,” and the stories in the book feature what the author calls the three essentials of Maasai life: their God, their land, and their cattle. Although the stories come from a traditional storyteller, the author has retold the stories in literary English rather than trying to convey an oral storytelling style.
More from the Maasai people: 3, 108, 126, , 143
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#135. McCall Smith, Alexander. The Girl Who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa. Published in 2005. Pages: 189.
Alexander McCall Smith [b. 1948] is best known as the author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but he is also the author of several books of African folktales. The Girl Who Married a Lion is the most complete of his folktale books, containing 34 stories. Some stories the author heard from Ndebele storytellers while traveling in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe (where he was born and grew up). The rest of the stories come from Botswana, collected and translated by Elinah Grant.
McCall Smith’s earlier book, Children of Wax: African Folk Tales, contains the Ndebele stories only. A later book, Folktales from Africa: The Baboons Who Went This Way and That, includes some previously published stories along with a few new stories too.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, , 138, 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#136. McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1986. Pages: 37.
Gerald McDermott [1941-2012] wrote and illustrated many children’s books featuring folktales and mythology from around the world. This Anansi book was his first children’s book, published in 1972, and it received a Caldecott Honor award. McDermott went on to write two other books based on African folktales: The Magic Tree: A Tale from the Congo and Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa.
In addition to his books inspired by African folktales, McDermott wrote a series of books about trickster characters from around the world, including Monkey: A Trickster Tale From India, Jabutí the Tortoise: A Trickster Tale From the Amazon, Coyote: A Trickster Tale From the American Southwest, and Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest.
More award-winning books: 2, 38, 53, 67, 69, 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, , 145, 181
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#137. McNeil, Heather. Hyena and the Moon: Stories to Tell from Kenya. Illustrated by Joan Garner. Published in 1994. Pages: 171.
Heather McNeil is a storyteller, author, and educator. The 10 stories in this book come from her travels in Kenya in 1987, and she provides detailed cultural background for the storytellers that she and her translator, Peter Kagathi Gitema, worked with. For each story, McNeil provides her own version in English, and she also provides the word-for-word translation so that you can see how she has adapted the story.
In addition to her work as an author and storyteller, Heather McNeil is the editor of the World Folklore series; some of the titles in that series include From the Winds of Manguito: Cuban Folktales, The Eagle on the Cactus: Traditional Tales from Mexico, The Corn Woman: Stories and Legends of the Hispanic Southwest, From the Mango Tree and Other Folktales from Nepal, Princess Peacock: Tales from the Other Peoples of China, and Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales.
More from eastern Africa: 103, 104, 116, 120, 127, , 144, 175
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#138. McPherson, Ethel. Native Fairy Tales of South Africa. Illustrated by Helen Jacobs. Published in 1919. Pages: 191. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Ethel McPherson, a resident of Cape Town in South Africa, used the Zulu stories published by Henry Callaway in 1868 [see #45 above] and the Sotho stories published by Édouard Jacottet in 1908 [see #111 above] to create this book of 22 stories for children, adapting the literal translations of Callaway and Jacottet into literary English. Helen Jacobs [1888-1970], an English artist, did the beautiful color illustrations. One of the stories included in the book is the famous legend of “The Snake with Five Heads,” which is also the inspiration for John Steptoe’s Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters; see #181 below.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, , 146, 163, 169, 184, 196
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#139. Medlicott, Mary. The River That Went to the Sky: Twelve Tales by African Storytellers. Illustrated by Ademola Akintola. Published in 1995. Pages: 96.
Mary Medlicott [b. 1946], the book’s editor, is a storyteller based in the U.K. She has collected 12 stories for this book, all told by African storytellers, including Gcina Mhlophe [see #140-141 below]. The beautiful illustrations are by Ademola Akintola [b. 1952], an artist from Nigeria now based in the U.K. Some of the stories in this book are traditional folktales, while others are contemporary stories, like the story by Sousa Jamba [b. 1966], “My Godfather,” which is based on his flight from Angola in 1975 to escape the civil war.
Medlicott is also the author of The Little Book of Storytelling, a handbook about telling stories for and with very young children.
More from African artists: 18, 69, 70, 71, 74, 81, 96, 112, 118, 134, , 160, 164, 187, 196
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#140. Mhlophe, Gcina. Stories of Africa. Illustrated by various artists. Published in 2003. Pages: 53.
Gcina Mhlophe [b. 1958] is a South African activist and writer from KwaZulu-Natal. As a storyteller, she performs in four languages: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, and Xhosa. This book of 10 stories was published by the University of Natal Press in South Africa, but it is not limited to stories from South Africa; you will find a wide variety of stories here, with beautiful illustrations by a group of artists based in Durban. As Mhlophe explains in the introduction, some of the stories she heard from her grandmother, while others she learned through her work as a storyteller traveling across Africa. For more by Mhlophe, see the following item.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, , 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#141. Mhlophe, Gcina. African Tales: A Barefoot Collection. Illustrated by Rachel Griffin. Published in 2018. Pages: 95.
This is another collection of stories by South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope; for more about her work, see the previous item. This lovely book features 8 stories from across Africa, and for each story there is a page of cultural information providing context for the story, plus beautiful illustrations by Rachel Griffin, a children’s book illustrator based in England.
This book is published by Barefoot Books, and you can find other Barefoot books at the Internet Archive too; here are just a few of their titles: Tropical Tales [see #132 below], Trickster Tales, The Wise Fool, Mother and Son Tales, Father and Son Tales, Heroic Children, Giants, Ghosts, and Goblins. Freaky Tales, Monsters, Animal Tales, Earth Tales, and Stories from the Stars.
More children’s picture books: 2, 3, 4, 32, 38, 39, 52, 69, 70, 71, 72, 89, 94, 96, 98, 106, 115, 119, 126, 136, , 143, 145, 152, 172, 178, 181, 185, 186, 188, 199
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#142. Mitchnik, Helen. Egyptian and Sudanese Folk-Tales [Oxford Myths and Legends series]. Illustrated by Eric Fraser. Published in 1978. Pages: 115.
Helen Mitchnik [b. 1901] was born in Omdurman on the west bank of the Nile in the Sudan, and she spoke Arabic as her first language. She later attended school in Khartoum and then relocated to England where she worked as a translator. This book contains 17 stories that Mitchnik heard from her Sudanese mother and grandmother when she was a child, and also during her years spent traveling throughout both Egypt and the Sudan.
The book is part of the Oxford Myths and Legends books, along with Arnott’s African Myths and Legends [see #16 above] and Bennett’s West African Trickster Tales [see #28 above]. You can find other books in this series at the Internet Archive too, including West Indian Folktales, Chinese Myths and Fantasies, Japanese Tales and Legends, Yugoslav Folk Tales, Russian Tales and Legends, Irish Sagas and Folk Tales, and more.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, 50, 77, 88, 115, , 172
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#143. Mollel, Tololwa. Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper! A Maasai Tale. Illustrated by Barbara Spurll. Published in 1991. Pages: 30.
Tololwa Mollel [b. 1952] is a Maasai writer who grew up in Kenya and is now based in Canada. This book was inspired by a Maasai legend, and you can compare other takes on this same type of story by Verna Aardema [see #3 above] and Melinda Lilly [see #126 above].
Mollel has written other books inspired by Maasai stories, like The Orphan Boy, along with books inspired by stories from across Africa, including The Flying Tortoise: An Igbo Story, The Princess Who Lost Her Hair: An Akamba Legend [illustrated by Charles Reasoner; see #126 above], Ananse’s Feast: An Ashanti Tale, The King and the Tortoise, Kitoto the Mighty, and A Promise to the Sun [illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, who also did the illustrations for Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema; see #1 above].
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, , 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#144. Muluka, Barrack. Why Dog Left the Forest [East African Educational Publishers Sparrow Readers series]. Illustrated. Published in 1996. Pages: 24.
Barrack Muluka [b. 1958] graduated from the University of Nairobi and is now a researcher at the University of Leicester in England. This folktale book featuring the adventures of Dog and Hyena is part of the Sparrow Readers series from East African Educational Publishers, where Barrack Muluka was CEO for many years. For another book in the Sparrow Readers series, see Chinua Achebe’s How Leopard Got His Claws, #8 above.
More from eastern Africa: 103, 104, 116, 120, 127, 137, , 175
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#145. Musgrove, Margaret. Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1976. Pages: 28.
This lovely book by Margaret Musgrove [b. 1943], with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon, provides an overview of African peoples from A to Z. The book won a Caldecott Medal, along with many other awards. Musgrove has taught high school in both the United States and in Ghana, and she later became a professor of writing at Loyola University Maryland. Musgrove is also the author of The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth, illustrated by Julia Cairns, who did the illustrations for Onyefulu’s Girl Who Married a Ghost [see #153 below].
More from Diane and Leo Dillon: 1, 2, 3, 110, , 176
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#146. Naidoo, Beverley. The Great Tug of War and Other Stories. Illustrated by Piet Grobler. Published in 2006. Pages: 95.
Beverley Naidoo [b. 1943] is a South African writer best known for her 1986 novel, Journey to Jo’burg. Imprisoned for her anti-apartheid activities, she left South Africa for England in 1965, where she became a schoolteacher in London. In this book, Naidoo has retold 8 folktales, many of which feature Mmutla, the trickster hare (Naidoo uses the Setswana names for the animal characters). There are delightful illustrations by Piet Grobler, who also illustrated Hofmeyr’s The Magic Bojabi Tree; see #106 above.
In addition to this book of African folktales, Naidoo is the author of a fascinating book of Aesop’s fables retold in an African context: Aesop’s Fables, also illustrated by Grobler.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, , 163, 169, 184, 196
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#147. Nassau, Robert. Where Animals Talk: West African Folk Lore Tales. Published in 1912. Pages: 250. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Robert Nassau [1835-1921] spent four decades as a medical missionary in Africa, arriving at Corisco Island, now part of Equatorial Guinea, in 1861; he also worked in the regions now known as Gabon and Cameroon. This book contains 61 folktales that Nassau collected during his career in Africa: 16 stories from Mpongwe storytellers in Gabon, 34 stories from Benga storytellers in Equatorial Guinea, and 11 stories from Fang storytellers in Cameroon, all of which Nassau translated into English. For each story there is a list of the cast of animal characters, which provides the Mpongwe, Benga, and Fang names for each animal.
More from central Africa: 6, 85, , 174, 183
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#148. Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Translated by G. D. Pickett. Published in 2006. Pages: 96.
Djibril Tamsir Niane [1932-2021], born in Guinea and educated in Senegal and France, heard this version of the traditional epic about Sundiata, the 13th-century ruler of the empire of Mali, from the griot Djeli Mamoudou Kouyate. Niane translated that version into French, and G. D. Pickett has translated the French version into English.
You can find some other versions of this epic at the Internet Archive also. For example, the book Sunjata: Gambian Versions of the Mande Epic includes a version by Bamba Suso and another version by Banna Kanute, both translated by Gordon Innes. John William Johnson translated a version by the griot Fa-Digi Sisoko in The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition. There is also a collection of essays about the epic edited by Ralph Austen: In Search of Sunjata: The Mande Oral Epic as History, Literature and Performance.
More epics: 26, 33, 40, 51, 83, 90, 101, 110, 
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#149. Nyabongo, Akiki. Winds and Lights. Illustrated by B. Hewitt. Published in 1939. Pages: 37.
Prince Akiki Nyabongo [1907-1975] was the second son of King Kyembambe of Toro state in Uganda. He studied at Howard University and at Yale, and then received his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1939. This book is a collection of 10 traditional Ugandan stories. Nyabongo is also the author of a novel, Africa Answers Back, about the tensions between native African traditions and the incursions of European education.
More from Uganda: 23, 113, , 176
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#150. Offodile, Buchi. The Orphan Girl and Other Stories: West African Folk Tales [International Folk Tale series]. Published in 2001. Pages: 260.
Buchi (Onyebuchi) Felix Offodile, born in Nigeria, is a professor at the Kent State University Business School. In this book he has collected 41 stories from all over western Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. There is a brief introduction for each country with cultural and geographical information. If you’re interested in exploring the stories by theme, there’s a thematic index in the back of the book.
This book is part of the excellent International Folk Tale series from InterLink Publishing, and you can find some other volumes in this series at the Internet Archive, including From the Land of Sheba: Yemeni Folk Tales, The Snake Prince: Burmese Folk Tales, and The Grandfathers Speak: Native American Folk Tales.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, 95, 105, 131, 132, 147, , 160, 166
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#151. Ogumefu, M. I. Yoruba Legends. Published in 1929. Pages: 87. [This book will enter the public domain in 2025.]
Margaret Irene Ogumefu [1905-1990] was the British-born wife of Michael Gladstone Ebun Ogumefu from Lagos, Nigeria; he died in 1927, just 25 years old, and after his death she published this book of Yoruba legends, dedicating the book to him. You will find 40 stories here, including a cycle of stories about the trickster Tortoise. She published this book of Yoruba legends under her married name, M. I. Ogumefu, and later published books under her maiden name, Margaret Baumann, and she also published romance novels under the pen name, Marguerite Lees.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, , 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#152. Olaleye, Isaac. In the Rainfield: Who Is the Greatest? Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi. Published in 2000. Pages: 31.
Isaac Olaleye [b. 1941] is a Nigerian writer who now resides in California. In this lovely children’s book, he tells the story of the struggle among Wind, Fire, and Rain to determine who is the greatest of the three. The illustrations are by Ann Grifalconi; see #32 and #94 above for more of her work.
Olaleye is also the author of fictional stories set in Africa, including Lake of the Big Snake: An African Rain Forest Adventure, Bitter Bananas, and Bikes for Rent!
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, , 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 193
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#153. Onyefulu, Ifeoma. The Girl Who Married a Ghost and Other Tales from Nigeria. Illustrated by Julia Cairns. Published in 2010. Pages: 111.
In the introduction to this collection of 10 Nigerian folktales, Ifeoma Onyefulu [b. 1959] writes about growing up in a village in eastern Nigeria and hearing stories from all her family and her family’s friends, and there are Igbo words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book. Tortoise was the most popular character in the stories Onyefulu grew up with, so you will find animal stories in this book, and supernatural stories too. The illustrations are by Julia Cairns, a British-born illustrator who lived in Botswana and is now based in New Mexico. For more of her work, see #145 above.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, , 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 194
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#154. Opoku, Kofi Asare. Speak to the Winds: Proverbs from Africa. Illustrated by Dindga McCannon. Published in 1975. Pages: 63.
Kofi Asare Opoku [b. 1933] is a scholar and author from Ghana who specializes in traditional African religion and also the study of proverbs. There are proverbs from across Africa included here (but no source information as to their provenance), organized thematically: Children, Wisdom, Human Conduct, etc. What makes this collection really remarkable is the beautiful artwork by Dindga McCannon [b. 1947], an African American artist and author who was born and raised in Harlem.
More proverbs: 27, 39, 42, 82, 109, 116, 123, , 156, 165, 167, 182
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#155. Orlando, Louise. African Folktales and Activities. Illustrated by Michelle Hill. Published in 1995. Pages: 80.
Louise Orlando [b. 1966] is the author of educational books for children, and in this book each of the 13 African folktales from various sources comes with information about the story’s cultural and geographical context. There are also learning activities intended for children ages 5-9, plus abundant illustrations and text decorations.
You can find other books by Orlando at the Internet Archive, including The Multicultural Game Book, which describes 70 traditional games from 30 different countries, including 10 games from Africa.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, , 162, 164, 168, 170, 200
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#156. Owomoyela, Oyekan. Yoruba Trickster Tales. Published in 1997. Pages: 218.
Oyekan Owomoyela [1938-2007], was born in Osun, Nigeria. After completing his Ph.D. at UCLA with a dissertation on Yoruba theater, he became a professor at the University of Nebraska. In this book he retells 23 stories about the trickster tortoise, whose Yoruba name is Ajapa (or Ijapa).
Owomoyela is also the author of The African Difference: Discourses on Africanity and the Relativity of Cultures and he edited A History of Twentieth-Century African Literatures. In addition to those print publications, he created a remarkable website with thousands of Yoruba proverbs in both Yoruba and English that has been archived by the Wayback Machine.
More Tortoise stories: 58, 151, , 187, 198, 200
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#157. Paye, Won-Ldy and Margaret Lippert. Why Leopard Has Spots: Dan Stories from Liberia. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan. Published in 1999. Pages: 50.
Won-Ldy Paye is a Dan storyteller from Tapita in northeastern Liberia. His maternal grandmother initiated him into the storytelling tradition, and he is also a drummer and dancer. He first came to the U.S. in the 1980s to study theater and, unable to return to Liberia for political reasons, he settled in Seattle; he is now based in Connecticut. His coauthor, Margaret Lippert [b. 1942], is a Seattle-based storyteller and writer. This book of Liberian folktales contains 6 stories, including two stories about the trickster spider. The stories are beautifully illustrated by Ashley Bryan [see #37-39 and #67 above, plus #186 below].
Two of the stories in this book have also been published as separate storybooks, both illustrated by Julie Paschkis, a Seattle-based artist: The Talking Vegetables and Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile. Paye and Lippert also wrote this book based on another Liberian folktale: Head, Body, Legs, again with illustrations by Paschkis.
More from Liberia: 46, 62, 74, 79, 102, , 161
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#158. Peek, Philip and Kwesi Yankah. African Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Published in 2004. Pages: 593.
This excellent encyclopedia was edited by Philip Peek [b. 1943] and Kwesi Yankah, with a board of consultants that included Ruth Finnegan [see #82 above], Lee Haring [see #101 above], and Harold Scheub [see #169-171 below]. There are over 150 contributors, with a list of entries from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Each entry contains its own bibliographical reference section, making it easy to do further research. Also, by using the digital edition at the Internet Archive, you can search the text by words or phrases, in addition to the index provided at the back of the book.
More big — really big! — books: 42, 60, 73, 75, 105, , 167, 169, 170, 177, 179, 180, 191, 197
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#159. Pelton, Robert Doane. The Trickster in West Africa: A Study of Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight. Published in 1980. Pages: 312.
Robert Doane Pelton [1935-2020] was a Catholic priest who studied at McGill University and then completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago Divinity School. In this book based on his 1974 doctoral dissertation, Pelton examines four different West African traditions: Ananse stories from the Ashanti of Ghana, Legba stories from the Fon of Benin, Eshu stories from the Yoruba of Nigeria, and Ogo-Yurugu stories from the Dogon of Mali. He also provides an introductory overview of scholarship on trickster traditions, plus his own theory of the trickster as inspired by these African traditions.
You can find other important studies of the trickster at the Internet Archive also, including From Trickster to Badman: The Black Folk Hero in Slavery and Freedom by John W. Roberts, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology by Paul Radin [see #164 below], and Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde.
More secondary literature: 26, 117, 129, 145, 158, , 171, 198
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#160. Petersen, Kirsten Holst and Anna Rutherford. Cowries and Kobos: The West African Oral Tale and Short Story. Illustrated by Uche Okeke and Adebisi Akanji. Published in 1981. Pages: 177.
This book provides a selection of both traditional oral narratives from western Africa along with contemporary literary stories, including stories by Chinua Achebe [see #8 above] and Cyprian Ekwensi [1921-2007]. There is a very helpful introductory essay by Donald Consentino [b. 1941] about the similarities and also differences between oral tales and written tales. Each section of the book has its own introduction, with Nigerian folklorist Helen Chukwuma [b. 1942] providing the introduction to the selection of 8 oral tales. The illustrations are by Uche Okeke [1933–2016] and Adebisi Akanji [b. 1930], who are both artists from Nigeria.
More from western Africa: 11, 14, 15, 19, 28, 30, 31, 53, 64, 95, 105, 131, 132, 147, 150, , 166
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#161. Pinney, Peter. Legends of Liberia. Published in 1973. Pages: 299.
Peter Pinney [1922–1992], an Australian world-traveler and writer, collected these 133 stories from across Liberia during the 1950s, working with Bandi, Bassa, Belle, Gio, Gola, Grebo, Kepelle, Kissi, Kru, Loma, Mah, Mende, Putu, Sapa, Sikon, and Vai storytellers. Pinney then presented the collection in book form to President Tubman of Liberia sometime in the early 1970s. The book was reissued by the European Union’s European Development Fund in 2017 in order to preserve and promote the storytelling traditions of Liberia, with copies distributed to all universities, colleges, libraries, and reading centers throughout the country.
More from Liberia: 46, 62, 74, 79, 102, 157, 
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#162. Pitcher, Diana. Tokoloshi: African Folk-Tales. Illustrated by Meg Rutherford. Published in 1981. Pages: 64.
Diane Pitcher [b. 1921] attended Natal University in South Africa and later worked as a teacher in Durban and then in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time) and in England; when she retired, she returned to South Africa. The 17 stories in this collection come mostly from Bantu-speaking peoples in southern and also central Africa, along with a few stories from eastern Africa and western Africa. The title character of the book, Tokoloshi, is a goblin-like creature found in Zulu and Xhosa storytelling traditions. The lovely illustrations are by Meg Rutherford [1932-2006], an Australian-born artist based in England.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, , 164, 168, 170, 200
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#163. Postma, Minnie. Tales from the Basotho. Translated by Susie McDermid, and with notes by John Vlach. Published in 1974. Pages: 177.
Minnie Postma [1908-1989] was a South African writer who grew up in the Orange Free State Province of South Africa on the Lesotho border. She spoke both Afrikaans and Sotho as a child, and her books helped to popularize Basotho stories for an Afrikaans audience. This collection of 23 Sotho legends has been translated from Afrikaans into English by Susie McDermid [1926-2011], a South African journalist who later settled in the United States; she has also written a very helpful introduction to the book. John Vlach [b. 1948], a professor at George Washington University, provided the tale type and motif index.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, , 169, 184, 196
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#164. Radin, Paul. African Folktales and Sculptures. Published in 1952. Pages: 322.
Paul Radin [1883-1959] was an American anthropologist who specialized in Native American studies; he is best known today for his classic The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology. When Radin published this anthology of 81 traditional African stories in 1952 it was a major event; there had not been an anthology of African folktales like this available in English before. The original 1952 edition of the book also contained an appendix with 165 photographs of African sculpture; in 1964 the book was reissued in a text-only edition, and the Internet Archive has copies of both the 1952 edition and the 1964 edition. You can also listen to a recording of Eartha Kitt reading 7 stories from Radin’s book: Folk Tales of the Tribes Of Africa.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, , 168, 170, 200
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#165. Rattray, R. Sutherland. Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales. Illustrated by Ashanti, Fanti and Ewe artists. Published in 1930. Pages: 275. [This book will enter the public domain in 2026.]
R. Sutherland Rattray [1881-1938] studied anthropology at Oxford University and then went on to join the British civil service in Africa. During his 25 years in Africa from 1906 until his retirement in 1930, he published several major collections of African stories and proverbs. This monumental collection of Akan folk-tales from Ghana (then the Gold Coast) contains 75 stories both in Akan and in a very literal English translation, along with illustrations by members of the Ashanti, Fanti, and Ewe tribes with whom Rattray lived and worked.
More bilingual books: 33, 35, 42, 45, 49, 73, 90, 108, 111, 114, 116, 127, 128, , 169, 180, 182, 191
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#166. Robinson, Adjai. Singing Tales of Africa. Illustrated by Christine Price. Published in 1974. Pages: 80.
You will find 7 song-stories from West Africa in this book. Each one includes the story in English, the song lyrics in the original African language and in English translation, the musical transcription, plus notes about the story’s cultural context. The author, Adjai Robinson, is from Sierra Leone [b. 1932], and he was a storyteller on Radio Sierra Leone before he relocated to the United States to attend Columbia University; he then returned to Africa in 1975, teaching at the Nigeria Teachers Institute in Kaduna. The illustrations are by Christine Price; for more of her work, see #97 above.
More books with music: 41, , 176, 190, 192
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#167. Ross, Mabel and Barbara Walker. On Another Day: Tales Told among the Nkundo of Zaire. With a foreword by Daniel Crowley. Published in 1979. Pages: 596.
This book contains 95 stories from Nkundo storytellers in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The majority of the stories were collected by Mabel Ross [1909-2001] in the early 1970s when she was a missionary. Ross’s co-author, folklorist Barbara Walker [1921-2007], wrote detailed notes and commentary on the stories; see #194 below for Walker’s books of Nigerian folktales. The introduction is by Daniel Crowley [1921-1998], a major scholar of both African and Caribbean folk traditions.
For examples of Mongo texts, see Mongo Proverbs and Fables by Edward Algernon Ruskin [1871-1943].
More from the Congo: 33, 43, 68, 107, , 197
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#168. Savory, Phyllis. The Best of African Folklore. Illustrated by Gina Daniel. Published in 1991. Pages: 111.
Phyllis Savory [1901-1991] was a prolific South African author who wrote numerous anthologies of African folktales in English, focusing primarily on folktales from southern Africa. Like Minnie Postma [see #163 above], Savory began collecting stories as a little girl growing up in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This “best of” collection contains 39 stories from Savory’s Fireside books.
You can also find two of Savory’s Fireside books at the Internet Archive — Zulu Fireside Tales and Congo Fireside Tales — along with two more of Savory’s books: Bantu Folk Tales from Southern Africa and Lion Outwitted by Hare and Other African Tales.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, , 170, 200
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#169. Scheub, Harold. The Xhosa Ntsomi [Oxford Library of African Literature series]. Published in 1975. Pages: 446.
Harold Scheub [1931-2019] was a professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He began his work on South African oral storytelling as a graduate student, and he spent four years walking 1,500 miles up and down the eastern coast of South Africa, tape-recording Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, Swazi and Sotho storytellers. For this book, as Scheub explains in the preface, he watched over 2000 different storytellers in the Transkei and kwaZulu-Natal. The resulting book contains 40 stories in Xhosa with an English translation. In addition to the performance text and translations, there is also an introduction (nearly 200 pages long) that discusses the composition, content, and performance of these Xhosa stories.
You can learn more about one of the storytellers, Nongenile Masithathu Zenani [d. 1985], in another of Scheub’s books: The World and the Word: Tales and Observations from the Xhosa Oral Tradition.
More from the Oxford Library of African Literature: 10, 82, 90, 
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#170. Scheub, Harold. The African Storyteller: Stories from African Oral Traditions. Published in 1990. Pages: 494.
In this book, Harold Scheub [see #169 above] has crafted an anthology intended for college students, providing a comprehensive survey of African storytelling traditions including both North African and sub-Saharan traditions, as well as both ancient (i.e. Egyptian) and modern stories. In addition to the 59 stories in the book, you will find observations about African cultures and storytelling performances, along with notes and commentary on the individual stories. Some of the stories come from previously published books, while others are stories that come from Scheub’s own work with South African storytellers. For more books by Scheub, see the previous and following items.
More big — really big! — books: 42, 60, 73, 75, 105, 158, 167, 169, , 177, 179, 180, 191, 197
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#171. Scheub, Harold. A Dictionary of African Mythology: The Mythmaker as Storyteller. Published in 2000. Pages: 368.
This book is not exactly a dictionary; instead, Harold Scheub has taken 400 traditional African stories in highly abbreviated form and arranged them alphabetically based on the name of the main character (a god or goddess, heroine or hero, etc.). There is a very detailed bibliography along with indexes by country, by language, by culture, and by themes. Unlike traditional tale type and motif indexes, Scheub has organized this thematic index based on what he sees as the “grand myth” and its components: Beginnings – First Connections between Heaven and Earth – Separation – Struggle between God and Man – Second Connections – Endings. For more books by Scheub, see the previous items.
More secondary literature: 26, 117, 129, 145, 158, 159, , 198
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#172. Schwartz, Howard and Barbara Rush. The Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folktale from Algeria. Illustrated by Stephen Fieser. Published in 1992. Pages: 29.
Howard Schwartz [b. 1941] is a widely published folklorist specializing in Jewish storytelling traditions. His co-author for this book, Barbara Rush, is a storyteller in Israel. In this book, they have retold a Jewish folktale from northern Africa. Schwartz also included the story of the Sabbath lion in this anthology of Jewish folktales: Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales in which you will find 10 North African stories. For more from Howard Schwartz, see #115.
Schwartz and Rush also collaborated on A Coat for the Moon and Other Jewish Tales, an anthology of Jewish folktales that contains 2 Egyptian and 2 Moroccan tales, and The Diamond Tree: Jewish Tales from Around the World, which features a Jewish folktale from Morocco.
More from northern Africa: 10, 24, 50, 77, 88, 115, 142, 
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#173. Seed, Jenny. The Bushman’s Dream: African Tales of the Creation. Illustrated by Bernard Brett. Published in 1975. Pages: 119.
Jenny Seed [b. 1930] is a prolific South African writer best known for her works of historical fiction, although she has also written books inspired by traditional folktales. In this book, Seed takes the Mantis stories told by San storytellers and recorded by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd [see #35 above] and retells the separate stories as a book-length cycle. Each chapter can stand on its own, while the book as a whole creates a sense of dramatic development from story to story.
You can also find one of Jenny Seed’s fictional books for children at the Internet Archive: Tombi’s Song.
More from the San people: 35, 125, 
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#174. Seid, Joseph Brahim. Told by Starlight in Chad. Translated by Karen Haire Hoenig. Published in 2007. Pages: 71.
Joseph Brahim Seid [1927-1980] was born in Chad and later completed his education in Egypt and in France. He then served as Chad’s ambassador to France in 1962 and later as Chad’s Minister of Justice. In addition to his political career, Seid was also a writer. This book of 14 folktales was originally published in French, Au Tchad sous les étoiles, in 1962.
This 2007 English translation is by Karen Haire Hoenig, a scholar of African literature who has taught at African and American universities; she is now at Principia College in Illinois. Her father, John Norman Haire, had begun translating the book when he was a lecturer at the University of N’Djamena in Chad during the 1970s, and she completed the project after his death.
More from central Africa: 6, 85, 147, , 183
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#175. Seitel, Peter. See So That We May See: Performances and Interpretations of Traditional Tales from Tanzania. Published in 1980. Pages: 307.
Peter Seitel [b. 1942] worked as a folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. This book of 35 Haya folktales from northwest Tanzania is based on recordings of traditional storytelling and riddling performances that he made in the late 1960s. The introduction to the book explains how he has represented some of the dynamics of oral performance in the written versions of the stories, and the introduction provides an overview of Haya traditions and culture.
In addition to his own research, Seitel has been involved in cultural heritage preservation projects around the world; you can learn more about those efforts here: Safeguarding Traditional Cultures: A Global Assessment.
More from eastern Africa: 103, 104, 116, 120, 127, 137, 144, 
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#176. Serwadda, W. Moses. Songs and Stories from Uganda. Translated by Hewitt Pantaleoni and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Published in 1974. Pages: 83.
Moses Serwadda, born in Mukono, Uganda, was a scholar of African music and dance. After working as a schoolteacher in the 1950s and 1960s, he studied at the University of Ghana and then joined the faculty at Makerere University in Uganda; he also worked with UNESCO. In this book Serwadda has collected 13 traditional songs from Uganda folklore, together with their stories. The songs are in Luganda, including a phonetic pronunciation, plus an English translation with conventional musical notation provided by Hewitt Pantaleoni [1929-1988], an American scholar of African music. The beautiful artwork is by Leo and Diane Dillon; see #1-3, #110 and #145 above.
More from Uganda: 23, 113, 149, 
More books with music: 41, 166, , 190, 192
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#177. Skinner, Neil. Hausa Tales and Traditions: An English Translation of Tatsuniyoyi Na Hausa by Frank Edgar. Published in 1969. Pages: 440.
Neil Skinner [1921-2015] was posted to northern Nigeria by the British Colonial Office during World War II, and there he began his lifelong work on Hausa and other African languages. He later went on to become a professor of African and Arabic Studies at the University of Wisconsin, and he also taught at Bayero University in Nigeria. The stories in this book are English translations of Hausa stories from Frank Edgar’s Tatsuniyoyi na Hausa published in 1911. You will find 268 stories here, including animal stories, stories about human characters and types, moralizing stories, stories of men and women, and dilemma tales [for more dilemma tales, see #21 above].
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, , 185, 191, 193, 194
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#178. Skivington, Janice. How Anansi Obtained the Sky God’s Stories: An African Folktale from the Ashanti Tribe [Adventures in Storytelling series]. Based on a story by Donna Washington. Published in 1991. Pages: 47.
This book is a fascinating storytelling experiment: there are beautiful illustrations by Janice Skivington for the story of Anansi and the Sky God, but without any text. Then, at the back of the book, you can read the version of the story that inspired Skivington’s illustrations as told by Donna Washington [b. 1968; see #195 below for more from Washington]. The idea is for parents or teachers to use the illustrations as storytelling prompts while engaging with young readers.
Washington also provided stories for two other books in the Adventures in Storytelling series: The Baboon’s Umbrella: An African Folktale illustrated by Ching and Double Dutch and the Voodoo Shoes: A Modern African-American Urban Tale, illustrated by Melodye Rosales, who also wrote and illustrated ‘Twas the Night b’fore Christmas: An African-American Version.
More Spider stories: 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 52, 55, 63, 64, 90, 98, 114, 136, 159, 
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#179. Smith, Edwin and Andrew M. Dale. The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia. Published in 1920. Pages: 433. [This book is in the public domain.]
This book features stories of the Ila people living along the Kafue River in Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia). Andrew Murray Dale [d. 1919] was a captain in the British Army who fought in the Matabele Wars and the Boer War; he was later the magistrate for the Namwala district where Edwin Smith [1876-1957] was a missionary. Together they wrote this ethnographic study, published as two separate volumes. The second volume contains 60 folktales, including a long cycle of stories about the trickster hare. There are also chapters about the Ila language and Ila religion, along with chapters about games, proverbs, riddles, and dilemma tales (“conundrums”).
More from Zambia: 47, 73, 
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#180. Steere, Edward. Swahili Tales as Told by Natives of Zanzibar. Published in 1870. Pages: 504. [This book is in the public domain.]
Edward Steere [1828-1882] was an Anglican missionary who first arrived in Africa in 1863, working in Nyasaland (now Malawi). He later spent many years in Zanzibar. In addition to this book of 23 Swahili stories from Zanzibar, which includes both the Swahili text and an English translation, Steere also translated the Bible into Swahili. You can find both his Handbook of the Swahili Language as Spoken at Zanzibar and Swahili Exercises at the Internet Archive.
For a selection of stories from this book re-written and illustrated for children, see George Bateman’s Zanzibar Tales Told by Natives of the East Coast of Africa, #25 above.
More Swahili stories: 4, 25, 130, 
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#181. Steptoe, John. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. Illustrated by the author. Published in 1991. Pages: 28.
In his all-too-brief life, John Steptoe [1950-1989] created a remarkable series of children’s books, including this book based on a famous African folktale. It won the Coretta Scott King Award and was also a Caldecott Honor book. You can find other books by John Steptoe at the Internet Archive too, including Stevie (which Steptoe published when he was just sixteen years old), and The Story of Jumping Mouse (another Caldecott Honor book). In Steptoe’s honor, there is now a “John Steptoe Award for New Talent” presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee.
Steptoe also created the beautiful artwork for Birago Diop’s Mother Crocodile: An Uncle Amadou Tale from Senegal; see #72 above.
More award-winning books: 2, 38, 53, 67, 69, 72, 94, 98, 100, 104, 136, 145, 
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#182. Stewart, Dianne. Wisdom From Africa: A Collection of Proverbs. Illustrated by Caine Swanson. Published in 2005. Pages: 159.
Dianne Stewart [b. 1952] is a South African author who has written many books inspired by African storytelling traditions, especially the Xhosa traditions of southern Africa (she is a fluent Xhosa speaker and did her graduate work in African Languages at the University of Natal). This book of proverbs, organized thematically, provides both the original saying as well as the English translation, along with a brief explanation to help illuminate the proverb’s meaning.
You can also find some of Stewart’s folktale books at the Internet Archive, including Daughter of the Moonlight and Other African Tales (illustrated by Gina Daniel; see #168 above for more of her work) and Folktales from Africa (illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden),
More proverbs: 27, 39, 42, 82, 109, 116, 123, 154, 156, 165, 167, 
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#183. Strong, Polly. African Tales: Folklore of the Central African Republic. Illustrated by Rodney Wimer. Published in 1992. Pages: 95.
Polly Strong [b. 1938] worked as a missionary teacher in the Central African Republic from 1965 until 2014. This book features 12 stories that she heard told in the Sango language by Mandja and Banda storytellers that she then translated into English. Following the stories, Strong adds an essay about storytelling practices in the Central African Republic and the social importance of the stories; she also provides an overview of the cosmic trickster named Tere who appears in many of these tales. The illustrations are by Rodney Wimer [b. 1960], who grew up in the Central African Republic and attended the high school where Strong was a teacher; he is now an artist based in North Carolina.
More from central Africa: 6, 85, 147, 174, 
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#184. Stuart, Forbes. The Magic Horns: Folk Tales from Africa. Illustrated by Charles Keeping. Published in 1976. Pages: 93.
This book by Forbes Stuart [b. 1924] contains 8 stories that Stuart remembered from his childhood in Bechuanaland (Botswana); he was born in Cape Town, South Africa. The wonderful illustrations are by the English artist Charles Keeping [1924-1988].
In 1962, no longer able to abide the system of apartheid, Stuart left South Africa and moved to London. He then began studying British folklore, publishing The Witch’s Bridle and Other Occult Tales and other books of English folktales. Stuart and Keeping worked together again on another book of folktales from the British Isles: The Mermaid’s Revenge: Folk Tales from Britain and Ireland.
More from southern Africa: 1, 17, 29, 34, 36, 45, 49, 65, 78, 80, 91, 111, 112, 122, 135, 138, 146, 163, 169, , 196
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#185. Sturton, Hugh. Zomo the Rabbit. Illustrated by Peter Warner. Published in 1966. Pages: 128.
Hugh Sturton is the pseudonym of Hugh Anthony Stephen Johnston [1913-1967], who served in the British Civil Service in Nigeria from 1936-1940 and 1945-1960; during World War II he was a pilot in the Royal Air Force. You will find 11 stories in this book that Johnston heard from Hausa storytellers during his time in Nigeria. The animal characters have their Hausa names throughout: Zomo is the rabbit, Giwa is the elephant, Kunkuru is the tortoise, etc. The drawings are by Peter Warner [1939-2007], a British illustrator.
For another book about Zomo the Rabbit, see #136 above, Gerald McDermott’s Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa.
More Rabbit stories: 3, 4, 78, 103, 131, 146, 
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#186. Swann, Brian. The House With No Door: African Riddle-Poems. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan. Published in 1998. Pages: 29.
Brian Swann [b. 1940] is a poet, novelist, and translator. Born in England, he attended Queen’s College in Cambridge and then did his Ph.D. at Princeton University; he later became a professor at The Cooper Union in New York City. In this book, Swann presents 14 riddles from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia. The illustrations by Ashley Bryan sometimes provide hints about a possible answer to the riddle — although, as Swann notes, there are often many answers to a riddle. In the back of the book you will find a list of possible answers along with a bibliography of sources.
You can find two more books of Swann’s riddles at the Internet Archive: A Basket Full of White Eggs: Riddle-Poems and Touching the Distance: Native American Riddle-Poems.
More from Ashley Bryan: 37, 38, 39, 67, 157, 
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#187. Tadjo, Véronique (editor). Chasing the Sun: Stories from Africa. Illustrated by the editor. Published in 2006. Pages: 144.
Véronique Tadjo [b. 1955] is a writer and artist from the Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). She studied at the University of Abidjan and then completed her doctorate at the Sorbonne. She has since taught at the University of Abidjan and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, while also leading workshops across Africa focused on children’s books. In this book, Tadjo has collected and also illustrated 12 stories from African authors, including stories that are written in a traditional oral style such as “Leuk-the-Hare Discovers Man” by Léopold Sédar Senghor and Chinua Achebe‘s Tortoise story, “The Drum” (for another folkloric tale by Achebe, see #8 above).
More Tortoise stories: 58, 151, 156, , 198, 200
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#188. Tchana, Katrin. Sense Pass King: A Story from Cameroon. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Published in 2002. Pages: 29.
Katrin Tchana [b. 1963] first heard this African fairy tale from her husband, Eugene Tchana, who is from Cameroon; they met when Tchana was working as a Peace Corps volunteer. Katrin Tchana’s mother, the artist Trina Schart Hyman [1939-2004], provided the beautiful illustrations.
Tchana and Hyman have collaborated on other books also. Their collection of heroine tales, The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women, contains three African folktales, and their book of goddess stories, Changing Woman and Her Sister: Stories of Goddesses from Around the World, features two African goddesses: Isis and Mawu.
More from Cameroon: 27, 94, 
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#189. Tembo, Mwizenge. Legends of Africa. Illustrated with photographs. Published in 1999. Pages: 96.
Mwizenge Tembo [b. 1954] studied sociology and psychology at the University of Zambia and completed his graduate studies at Michigan State University. He then taught at the University of Zambia and is now a professor at Bridgewater College in Virginia. This book opens with a chapter on traditional myths including creation myths and the origins of people and their ways of life across a wide range of African cultures. The folktale chapter features 10 different stories, including stories about Kalulu the trickster hare. Finally, there is a section on both traditional and contemporary legends, including stories of resistance, adaptation and urban legends. The book is abundantly illustrated with photographs both of African art and also of African people and places.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, , 193
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#190. Tracey, Hugh. The Lion on the Path and Other African Stories. Illustrated by Eric Byrd. Published in 1968. Pages: 127.
As a young man, Hugh Tracey [1903-1977] emigrated from England to Zimbabwe, and in 1934 he began working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, making over 35,000 recordings as he traveled the continent. He is perhaps most well known for popularizing the instrument known as the kalimba. This book includes 25 folktales from southern Africa with musical transcription, plus illustrations by South African artist Eric Byrd [1905-1983].
Tracey’s book about the musical arts of the Chopi people of Mozambique is also available at the Internet Archive — Chopi Musicians: Their Music, Poetry, and Instruments — and you can listen to an album of music from eastern Africa that he produced together with Alan Lomax [1915-2002]: World Library of Folk Music: British East Africa.
More books with music: 41, 166, 176, , 192
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#191. Tremearne, Arthur J. N. Hausa Superstitions and Customs: An Introduction to the Folk-Lore and the Folk. Published in 1913. Pages: 548. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
Arthur John Newman Tremearne [1877-1915] was born in Australia and studied at Cambridge University in England. He fought in the Boer War and was then posted to western Africa; he was killed in the Battle of Loos in World War I. During his time in Nigeria, Tremearne began an intensive study of Hausa culture. This book contains 100 Hausa folktales in English, with the Hausa texts appearing separately: Hausa Folk-tales: The Hausa Text.
You can find Tremearne’s other books at the Internet Archive also including The Tailed Head-hunters of Nigeria and The Ban of the Bori: Demons and Demon-dancing in West and North Africa, plus his memoir, Some Austral-African Notes and Anecdotes. In addition to his scholarly Hausa publications, Tremearne published a book of Hausa stories adapted for children: Fables and Fairy Tales for Little Folk, or: Uncle Remus in Hausaland, co-authored with his wife, Mary Tremearne.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, , 193, 194
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#192. Tucker, Archie. Disappointed Lion and Other Stories from the Bari of Central Africa. Illustrated by John Farleigh. Published in 1937. Pages: 97.
Archie Tucker [1904-1980], born in South Africa, was a linguist who specialized in African languages, especially the languages of eastern Africa and the Sudan. This book features 10 stories that Tucker heard while living in South Sudan in the 1930s, and his introduction to the stories describes Bari village life during that time of social and cultural transition. He has retold the stories for children (he originally wrote them for a children’s radio show), and there are musical transcriptions for the songs. The illustrations are by British artist John Farleigh [1900-1965].
The Internet Archive also has some of Tucker’s scholarly works, including The Non-Bantu Languages of Northeastern Africa.
More books with music: 41, 166, 176, 190, 
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#193. Umeasiegbu, Rems. The Way We Lived: Ibo Customs and Stories [African Writers series]. Illustrated by Peter Edwards. Published in 1969. Pages: 139.
Rems Nnanyelugo Umeasiegbu [b. 1943] is a Nigerian folklorist. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to teach at universities both in the United States and in Nigeria. The first part of the book describes traditional Igbo customs (childbirth, circumcision, marriage, divorce, funerals, festivals, games, etc.), and the second part features 55 folktales, including stories about the trickster tortoise.
More from African authors: 6, 8, 9, 11, 18, 51, 64, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 86, 96, 97, 109, 112, 113, 116, 132, 134, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 156, 157, 160, 166, 174, 176, 187, 189, 
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#194. Walker, Barbara and Warren Walker. Nigerian Folk Tales. Illustrated by Margaret Barbour. Published in 1961. Pages: 113.
Barbara Walker [1921-2007] and Warren Walker [1920-2002] were American folklorists, and in this book they have transcribed 37 Yoruba stories told to them by two Nigerian students studying in the United States: Olawale Idewu was a medical student from Lagos, and Omotayo Adu, also from Lagos, was studying chemistry.
Barbara Walker later published another book with an additional 11 stories told by Olawale Idewu: The Dancing Palm Tree, and Other Nigerian Folktales, with illustrations by Helen Siegl [see #66 above]. For Walker’s contribution to a book of Nkundo stories, see #167 above.
More from Nigeria: 8, 30, 51, 57, 58, 59, 67, 86, 151, 152, 153, 156, 177, 185, 191, 193, 
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#195. Washington, Donna. A Pride of African Tales. Illustrated by James Ransome. Published in 2004. Pages: 70.
Donna Washington [b. 1967] is a storyteller and writer based in North Carolina. The illustrator, James Ransome [b. 1961], was born in North Carolina but is now based in New York. In this book, they have retold 6 traditional African folktales from the Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon, beautifully illustrated.
Washington provided the story for How Anansi Obtained the Sky God’s Stories and The Baboon’s Umbrella [see above, #178], and she is also the author of two books about Kwanzaa: Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa and The Story of Kwanzaa.
Ransome has illustrated a wide range of books, including many on African American themes such as How Animals Saved the People: Animal Tales From the South by J. J. Reneaux and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson.
More from African American / Diaspora authors: 14, 15, 32, 37, 38, 39, 44, 46, 79, 83, 100, 102, 124, 145, 181, , 199
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#196. Waters, Mary Waterton. Cameos From the Kraal. Illustrated by a Xhosa artist. Published in 1926. Pages: 58. [This book is in the public domain.]
Mary Waterton Waters [1886-1961] was the daughter and granddaughter of missionaries in the Cape Colony in South Africa. In addition to this collection of 12 Xhosa folktales and anecdotes rendered in English, she was the first white writer to compose a play in Xhosa: U-Nongqause. From this same era of South African story collections, you can compare Old Hendrik’s Tales by Arthur Owen Vaughan from 1904 and Outa Karel’s Stories: South African Folklore Tales by Sanni Metelerkamp from 1914. Somewhat later, but very much in the same genre, is Koos, the Hottentot: Tales of the Veld by Josef Marais, published in 1945.
More from African artists: 18, 69, 70, 71, 74, 81, 96, 112, 118, 134, 139, 160, 164, 187, 
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#197. Weeks, John. Congo Life and Folklore. Published in 1921. Pages: 468. [This book is in the public domain; see the Anthology in the back of this book for some stories.]
John Weeks [1861-1924] began his missionary work in the Congo in 1881, remaining there until 1912. During that time he collected both Bakongo and Boloki folktales; this book contains 41 Bakongo folktales. The first part of the book is a narrative of “Life on the Congo” that presents a series of 8 stories as told by storytellers in specific settings with the names of the storytellers and other details. The second part of the book contains 33 additional stories, but without any description of the storytelling occasion. For Weeks’s Boloki folktales, see his book Among Congo Cannibals.
One of the Bakongo stories, “How the Sparrow Set the Elephant and the Crocodile to Pull Against Each Other,” inspired a children’s book by Edel Wignell: The Mighty Sparrow: A Trickster Tale of the African Congo.
More from the Congo: 33, 43, 68, 107, 167, 
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#198. Werner, Alice. The Mythology of All Races: African. Published in 1925. Pages: 344. [This book is in the public domain.]
Alice Werner [1859-1935] was a scholar of Bantu languages who first began studying African languages in the 1890s; she later went on to teach at the School of Oriental Studies in London. In this groundbreaking study of African mythology, Werner provides an overview of African gods and goddesses, origin myths, ancestral spirits, heroes, ogres, animal stories (with separate chapters on Hare, Tortoise, and Spider), along with stories of witchcraft.
Werner is the author of other books and articles about African folklore, including Myths and Legends of the Bantu. In addition to her scholarly research, she was also a poet; see, for example, her book A Time and Times: Ballads and Lyrics of East and West.
More secondary literature: 26, 117, 129, 145, 158, 159, 171, 
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#199. Wilson, Beth. The Great Minu. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Published in 1974. Pages: 28.
Beth Wilson [1909-1991] was the second African American school teacher hired by the Oakland, California school system, and she taught there until she retired in 1960 and began publishing children’s books. The story for this book, “Honorable Minu,” comes from Barker and Sinclair’s book of West African folktales [see #20 above], and the beautiful illustrations are by Jerry Pinkney.
More from Jerry Pinkney: 4, 14, 15, 93, 
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#200. Winther, Barbara. Plays From African Tales. Published in 1992. Pages: 145.
Barbara Winther [1926-2018] began writing folktale plays when she was working as a teacher in California and could not find any folktale scripts to perform with her students. In this book you will find 14 plays in script form with production notes, including stories about Anansi the Spider, Ijapa the Tortoise, and the trickster Hare, plus dilemma tales and fairy tale adventures. Although the book is copyrighted, the plays are licensed as free to use for school performances.
You can also find Winther’s Plays from Hispanic Tales and Plays from Folktales of Asia at the Internet Archive, along with these other books of scripts inspired by African folktales: The Reader’s Theatre of Folklore Plays: African, Asian, and Latin-American Stories by Henry Gilfond and Plays from African Folktales by Carol Korty.
More from across Africa: 7, 16, 21, 22, 48, 56, 60, 61, 75, 76, 84, 87, 92, 121, 123, 133, 155, 162, 164, 168, 170,