(If you want to retell any of the stories listed below, be sure
to obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material
is not in the public domain)
1) Uncle Remus, his songs and his sayings by Joel Chandler Harris (Kindle version @ $.99)
Brer Rabbit: From the Collected Stories of Joel Chandler Harris (Courage Books)
With over 100 illustrations. American author and journalist, Harris is famous for humorous adaptations of black folk legends in the Uncle Remus Stories. These folktales, to by a Negro to a little boy, feature a variety of animals with the rabbit as hero and the fox next in importance, and often stress the importance of brains over brawn.
2) Nights with Uncle Remus (Penguin Classics) by Joel Chandler Harris. (2003)
For more than a hundred years, the tales of Joel Chandler Harris have entertained and influenced both readers and writers. Nights with Uncle Remus gathers seventy-one of Harris's most popular narratives, featuring African American trickster tales, etiological myths, Sea Island legends, and chilling ghost stories. Told through the distinct voices of four slave storytellers, indispensable tales like "The Moon in the Mill-Pond" and other Brer Rabbit stories have inspired writers from Mark Twain to William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston to Toni Morrison, and helped revolutionize modern children's literature and folktale collecting.
Lester's Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales.
The four award-winning Uncle Remus books--now in one volume with a new introduction by Julius LesterBrer Rabbit is causing trouble again for his fellow creatures Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, and the rest--this 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.
4) Uncle Remus Bookstore: 35 Complete Stories. Download as an eBook.
"Uncle Remus Initiates the Little Boy"
The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story
How Mr. Rabbit was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox
......"How Mr. Rabbit was Too Sharp" analysis/ context
Miss Cow Falls a Victim to Mr.Rabbit
......Miss Cow analysis/context
Old Mr. Rabbit, He's a Good Fisherman Was
A Story About Little Rabbits
......"Little Rabbits" analysis/context
Why the Negro is Black
......"Why the Negro" analysis/context
Note: All above selections are taken from Legends of the Old Plantation, copyright 1881, the first of the Uncle Remus collections by Harris).
6) The Brer Rabbit stories themselves cannot be racist as Brer
Rabbit is the African trickster hare who like Anansi made the
forced middle passage. The stories are found in the Caribbean
as well as the U.S. Like all tricksters Brer Rabbit plays on the
vanity and foolishness of the supposedly strong and comes out
on top. The Louisiana tale of Brer Rabbit
setting Alligator on Fire can be found in Zimbabwe where
hare sets a long-eared, long-haired hippo on fire when his vanity
gets out of hand.
7) In Chinese folk tales there is a Candy Man story (who is sort
of like molasses, I think). And there is a tarred straw ox story
that comes from the Ukrainian and Latvian regions around Russia.
I use the tarred ox story, even turned it into a puppet play,
and have never had any negative racial connotations surface in
discussions afterwards. So there are a couple of alternative solutions
that make it possible to use the Tar Baby motif if you feel uneasy
8) There is an Anansi story with something similar. When Anansi
had to catch the invisible fairy he use the gum-baby to catch
her. I don't think using "sticky pitch, or sap, or gum or
paste or super-glue" changes the story.
9) Sister Rabbit is Aesop and/or
Talmud rabbis' The Farmer and the Snake.
Also, an Africa story about the tiger in the cage and either the
rabbi or the yogi or the some-other-kind of smart one rescuing
a dumb hunter who let him out.
10) There's an Anansi story where Anansi fakes his own death and
his wife sets up a tar man in the garden to catch the thief (Anansi,
of course) stealing the vegetables.
11) In some versions of the "tar-baby" analogue, the
spider (Ananse, Anansi, Anaanu) gets stuck to a human-shaped thing
made of sticky "stuff," gum, or a sticky rubber, a kind
of scarecrow in the field where he has been stealing yams--no
reference is made to color. In others, the figure is a doll (Gale
E. Haley's A Story, a Story refers
to the gum-baby, and shows an illustration of the akuaba doll,
a symbol of fertility and the desire for a healthy baby)
This tale is about how “spider stories” came to be. Kwaku Ananse collects a leopard, hornets, and a fairy to give to the Sky God in return for the Sky God’s book of stories. Upon completion of this nearly impossible task, Kwaki Ananse returns to earth with stories where there were none before. (JHP)
12) Query: Quick! What is your best, favoritist, most crowd-pleasing Uncle Remus story? There are too many to choose from -- my mind freezes with so many choices. Can you direct me?
Sue B. 1/24/08
Response: I believe Hunny Bunny, adapted by Ed Stivender is an Uncle Remus tale and one of my all-time favorites. You can find his version in Ready-To-Tell Tales (American Storytelling) by Holt and Mooney. Also, here is a wonderful site filled with Uncle Remus stories, songs and sayings:
Karen C. 1/24/08
Response: I like that Tar Baby and Br'er Rabbit saying, "Don't throw me in the briar patch." (used to tell it to my juniors, as a survival tactic just like the coded use of spirituals). I also like Possum and Snake. "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."
Mary G. 1/24/08
Response: I like a cajun version of The Tar Baby, called Lapin et Te Tar Bebe.
Wendy G. 1/24/08
Response: Another story came to mind. It is a Cajun version of an Uncle Remus tale found in Cajun Folktales by J.J. Reneaux. The story is The Theft of Honey, very funny, the kids always love it. You can find the book and the story here on pages 26-30.
Karen C. 1/24/08
Cajun Folktales (American Storytelling)
by J.J. Reneaux. (1993)
Nationally acclaimed storyteller J.J. Reneaux includes animal stories, fairy tales, ghost stories, and humorous tales from her native Cajun culture. While children will giggle over the foolishness of Jean Sot, who jumps to the conclusion that the purpose of a new fence of telephone and electricity poles is to pen up giant cows, adults will recognize the all-too-human fear of anything new and different that lies at the heart of this tale.
web page updated 8/3/03; 1/24/08)