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Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes


Grade 9 Up-This volume describes folk heroes from all times and cultures, both individually and as groups ("Magicians," "Occupational Heroes," etc.). There are indexes by heroic type, country/culture, and a chronology of folk heroes by century, in addition to a general index and a detailed bibliography. Each entry includes cross-references and citations. Black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout. Seal states up front that his book is selective; he emphasizes folklore and fairy tales, and doesn't include characters from mythology, scripture, or literature (although he does treat larger-than-life historical figures who've passed into folklore, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, and a whole host of outlaws). Unfortunately, the book has flaws, most relating to the way the entries are written. They vary considerably in content. Some explain the background, some give a historical treatment, some analyze customs and traditions, while others delve into psychology. Some articles use quotes from scholars, rhymes, or songs. Some quickly summarize the stories, others include retellings in excruciating detail. As a result, the entries are inconsistent in substance, length, and value. While this volume can be interesting and informative, it can also be puzzling and frustrating, depending on a subject's treatment.
Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Seal (Curtin Univ. of Technology, Perth, Australia) compiles a selection of folk heroes from cultures around the world, concentrating on those from "authenticated folk traditions." A strong introduction defines the attributes, qualities, and origins of a folk hero as well as cultural and communal interpretations of heroism. Organized alphabetically by name, the encyclopedia also includes group entries such as occupational heroes, outlaws, giant-killers, and local heroes. Each entry is followed by references and related pieces, and the volume is indexed by both heroic type and country/culture. Also included is a chronology of folk heroes and an extensive bibliography. One minor criticism is that minor heroes may be difficult to locate; for example, Joe Magarac, a steel workers' folk hero, appears under occupational heroes but is listed in neither the general index nor under the heading "Occupational Heroes" in the "Index of Heroic Types," though he is in the chronology under 20th-century heroes. Nevertheless, this entertaining and wide-ranging work is a valuable addition to most libraries.DKatherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Tags: heroes, Heroes, century, chronology, countryculture, Encyclopedia, heroes, heroic