Brer Rabbit is causing trouble again for his fellow creatures Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, and the restthis time in an omnibus edition that brings together all the stories from Tales of Uncle Remus, More Tales of Uncle Remus, Further Tales of Uncle Remus, and Last Tales of Uncle Remus.
The Uncle Remus tales, originally written down by Joel Chandler Harris, were first published over a hundred years ago, and serve as the largest collection of African-American folklore. In this four-book series, Julius Lester masterfully retains the flavor of the tales, while dropping the heavy dialect of the Harris originals and adding contemporary language and references ensuring that the stories will be understood and enjoyed by new generations of readers. And, of course, the stories are beautifully illuminated by the slyly humorous full-color and black-and-white art of Jerry Pinkney. The result is a treasure of a volume that will delight all ages and belongs on every shelf.
About the Author
Born in 1939, Julius Lester spent his youth in the Midwest and the South and received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.
Since 1968 he has published 25 books of fiction, nonfiction, children's books, and poetry. Among the awards these books have received are the Newbery Honor Medal, American Library Association Notable Book, National Jewish Book Award Finalist, The New York Times Outstanding Book, National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Caldecott Honor Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and a National Book Award Finalist. His books have been translated into eight languages.
He has published more than one hundred essays and reviews in such publications The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Op-Ed Page,The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The New Republic, Katallagete, Moment, Forward, and Dissent.
He has recorded two albums of original songs, hosted and produced a radio show on WBAI-FM in New York City for eight years, and hosted a live television show on WNET in New York for two years. A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, his photographs of that movement are included in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and are part of the permanent photographic collection at Howard University.
After teaching at the New School for Social Research for two years, Mr. Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in 1971 where he is presently a full professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department, and adjunct professor in the English and History departments. He also serves as lay religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
He has been awarded all four of the university's most prestigious faculty awards: The Distinguished Teacher's Award; the Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship; Distinguished Faculty Lecturer; and recipient of the Chancellor's Medal, the University's highest honor. In 1986 the Council for Advancement and Support of Education selected him as the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year.
Mr. Lester's biography has appeared in Who's Who In America since 1970. He has given lectures and papers at more than 100 colleges and universities.
His most recent books are John Henry, And All Our Wounds Forgiven, a novel about the civil rights movement, and Othello, a novel based on the Shakespeare play.
Jerry Pinkney has been illustrating children's books since 1964 and has the rare distinction of being the recipient of:
Five Caldecott Honor Medals
Five Coretta Scott King Awards
Four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards (most recently 2006 Little Red Hen)
Four Gold and four Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators
Boston Globe Honor Book Award (John Henry 1994)
In addition to his work on children's books, he is an extremely successful artist who has had eleven one-man retrospectives at venues ranging from the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists to the Art Institute of Chicago. His current one-man show entitled, "Building Bridges, the Art of Jerry Pinkney" was organized by the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and will be traveling through 1998. Mr. Pinkney has illustrated for a wide variety of clients, including National Geographic , the National Parks Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the American Library Association and the Association of Booksellers for Children.
Born in Philadelphia in 1939, Jerry Pinkney states, "(I) took an interest in drawing very early in my life, and at some point I realized I'd rather sit and draw than do almost anything else." While growing up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia his interest in art was supported by hisfamily especially by his mother. "She certainly understood me and made it clear to everyone that if art was what I wanted to pursue, then that's what she wanted to have happen. My father also became very supportive, and when I wanted to take art classes after school he found ways for me to attend."
In junior high school Mr. Pinkney had a newsstand and took a drawing pad with him to work every day and sketched passersby. That was how he met the cartoonist John Liney, who encouraged him to draw and showed him the possibilities of making a living as an artist.
After graduating from the commercial art program at Dobbins Vocational School, where he met his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney received a full scholarship to attend the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now University of the Arts). While at PCA he and Gloria married. After their first child was born, they moved to Boston, where Mr. Pinkney worked as a designer at Rustcraft Greeting Card Company, and at Barker-Black Studio where he developed his reputation as an illustrator. Eventually he opened Kaleidoscope Studio with two other artists. Later he opened his own freelance studio Jerry Pinkney Studio and moved to New York. Sensitivity to and an interest in a variety of cultures has always been a dominant theme of Mr. Pinkney s work. He has also drawn inspiration for a significant part of his work from African American culture. Among his numerous projects are his twelve postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service Black Heritage series. Mr. Pinkney was a member of its Advisory Committee for ten years and he was also invited to join the NASA artist team for the space shuttle Columbia. "I wanted to show that an African American artist could make it on a national level in the graphic arts. I want to be a strong role model for my family and for other African Americans."
Many of Mr. Pinkney's children's books celebrate multicultural and African American themes. "Working on both the Uncle Remus tales and John Henry has shown me an important link between pivotal and opposite African American folk heroes. Brer Rabbit, the sly trickster, originated during slavery and was the first African American folk hero. Slaves who wanted to get the better of their masters needed to be cunning and sly hence the trickster role. However, later comes John Henry, a free man, whose strength and valor bring him fame. He was a strong folk hero for African Americans, a symbol of all the working men who made a major contribution to the building of the roads and railroads in the mountains of West Virginia a dangerous job for which many paid with their lives."
Mr. Pinkney's two latest books areThe Little Red Hen and The Old African by Julius Lester (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney). Books give me a great feeling of personal and artistic satisfaction. When I'm working on a book, I wish the phone would never ring. I love doing it. My satisfaction comes from the actual marks on the paper, and when it sings, it's magic".
Jerry and Gloria Pinkney live in Westchester County, New York. The Pinkneys have four children: Troy, Scott, Brian, and Myles, and seven grandchildren. Two of the Pinkney's children are also involved in children's book illustration, Brian through illustrations, and Myles throughphotography. In addition to illustrating children's books and other projects, Mr. Pinkney has also been an art professor at the University of Delaware and State University of New York at Buffalo. He has given workshops and been a guest lecturer at universities and art schools across thecountry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Now when I was growing up these were very controversial stories. I guess these are retold with more of the original backgrounds. This particular version has the Coretta Scott King award, so it must be a good one. I read Brer Rabbit and The Tar Baby. Brer Fox tricks Brer Rabbit by creating a "baby" out of tar. Brer Rabbit tries to communicate with the baby and gets angry when he gets no response. He soon ends up stuck tight to the tar baby. Brer Fox tosses him into a briar patch to further his pain and humiliation but finds out that Brer Rabbit easily frees himself, saying how he was raised in a briar patch. An enjoyable set of fables from the south.
These are easier to read ,but still great!They are great bedtime stories!We loved them!!!!
I bought this book, and quickly bought the Joel Chandler Harris to replace it. Julius Lester doesn't just ease up on the heavy southern dialect, he also removes any story element that might hint at slavery; gone are all the loving interactions between Uncle Remus and the boy, and 'Uncle Remus' is reduced to an empty name devoid of meaning. Doing this was a horrible mistake. I read these stories to my young daughter, who is too young yet to learn much about slavery. When the time comes, because we are now reading Harris's original, she will know that Uncle Remus-- a slave-- was a warm, loving, three-dimensional human being; and it will be clear to her why the enslavement of human beings is morally wrong. Lester's whitewashed version dehumanizes Remus, and thus dehumanizes every real-life slave he represents. We owe our children better than this. If you are interested in getting this book as a source of stories to read to your children, then go with the Joel Chandler Harris text and learn to handle the dialect. With a little practice, it's really not that hard, and boy, does it get to be fun.