By Jo Ann Hernandez
LatinaLista — Latino American Folktales: Stories from The American Mosaic edited by Thomas A. Green is designed to provide educators, students, and general readers with examples of a range of traditional Latino narratives: fictional tales, legends, myths, and personal experience.
Moreover, the examples in this anthology represent the cultural diversity that exists within the American Latino.
Native North, Central, and South American influences are apparent in the Latino repertoire by virtue of the inclusion of characters such as “coyote” and “tigre” (Jaguar) in fictional tales, and by the incorporation of Native American historical figures such as Montezuma and Papantzin into the legend corpus.
Taking readers into the 21st Century, the Latino folktale repertoire continues to be enriched by infusions from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
These tales reflect the environment, cultural adaptations, and prevailing concerns of the respective areas from which they are drawn. The introductions to each tale comment on these issues. The concluding general bibliography provides additional resources for those readers who wish to explore these issues in greater depth.
The collection of 30 stories is divided into four sections: “Origins” encompasses those narratives that focus on beginnings and transformations: the creation of the world and its inhabitants, how animal species acquired their physical characterics, and how the family came to be here, for example.
“Heroes, Heroines, Villains, and Fools” presents a cross-section of major character types that populate Latino folktales. “Society and Conflict” contains considerations of social issues ranging from conventional morality to intergroup conflicts. Finally, “The Supernatural” concentrates on traditional tales of the dead, the magical, and the monstrous.
Regardless of the story, readers of all ages will not only enjoy the folktales, but at the same time, learn a little more about the rich cultural traditions that comprise Latino America.
Jo Ann HernÃ¡ndez is assistant Bookshelf editor and author of the award-winning “White Bread Competition” and “The Throwaway Piece,” as well as, creator and publisher of BronzeWord Latino Authors web site.