Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Worldly Wednesday: The Fate of the Folk Tale

Anyone who knows me probably knows about my passion for folk tales, fables, fairy tales, and oral history.  And, I love new twists, adaptations, versions, and 'the other side' perspectives on age-old tales.

But lately, I've run across numerous publishing houses that specifically forewarn: we do not publish folk tales or fables of any kind.

So, I headed into the library awhile back to browse the folk tales and fables section of the children's area, to see what I came up with.  So yes, there are about a hundred Cinderellas.  But when it came to African folk tales, and multicultural ones, I didn't find as many–especially recent ones.

What I did notice was that a lot of them were published more than 10 years ago...or self-published/published non-traditionally.  I found an Italian folk tale of the Goat-Faced Girl (self-published) as well as several volumes of international folk tales from around the world, but not published by any traditional children's press (mostly regional or small educational publishers).

Right now, I'm working on a few Gambian folk tale adaptations–mostly Wolof, Fula, and Mandinka stories.  It's challenging, especially considering that there are only about 5 or 6 published works ever to document the many, many oral stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  A lot of my material is sourced directly from Gambians–retelling stories their grandparents told them. I work on this collection of folk tales and fables, I wonder:  is the market for African folk tales dead?  If so, who is interested in preserving these stories?  Are there publishing houses still open to multicultural folk tales, or twisted and adapted well-known ones?

Do you love to read folk tales?  To write them?  To twist them around and adapt them into something new?  Your thoughts are welcomed on the Fate of the Folk Tale!


Unknown said...

I don't think they're dead. I think, like anything, you just have to find the right house for them. Especially since you're looking at a niche that's pretty much been neglected.

Kelly Hashway said...

This is so cool! You get to do so many fun retellings! I'm jealous. :)

Miranda Paul said...

Ellen -
I'm hoping that my access to rare folk tales such as the ones from The Gambia pique the interest of editors. Finding the right house, however, hasn't been easy...

Miranda Paul said...

Kelly -

Retellings are fun, and I feel very fortunate to be hired again and again to do them.

I do enjoy adaptations and twists, too - and hopefully will get some of those published in the near future!

Thanks for the comment!

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