Sunday, September 03, 2017

Newbery Winners: Tales from Silver Lands

The fourth book to win the Newbery Medal is Tales from Silver Lands, a collection of South American folk tales compiled by Charles J. Finger. It's a fun little collection of stories, most of which are unrelated, although the tales of the heroic twins Hunapu and Belanque, their corps of four hundred followers, and how they conquered three giants does provide a little bit of a throughline. And for a book from 1924, there are a lot fewer of the attitudes towards "exotic" peoples that would make many of us cringe today than one would expect (although a few do sneak in). In fact, the characters are generally just going about their lives, either being good guys or bad guys, neither usually having much to do with their backgrounds. In fact, most of the antagonists are witches or giants or other supernatural creatures, or animals, so the humans come off pretty well. Finger does insert himself into the beginning of some of the stories, where he explains where he was and who he was with when he heard some of the tales, but for the most part each is presented on its own. All in all, a fun little read, but I doubt I will ever feel a compelling need to read this again.