Friday, September 19, 2008

Mightier Than The Sword: World Folktales for Stong Boys

Yolen, Jane, Trans. 2003. Mightier Than The Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys. Ill. by Raul Colon. New York: Silver Whistle, Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152163913

Plot Summary
Mightier Than The Sword is a collection of fourteen folktales gathered from Asia, Africa, and Europe. All tales depict a young man as the protagonist who solves major problems without ever resorting to force. The main character thinks through the problem first before ever making his first move, demonstrating that brains can overcome brawn.

Critical Analysis
Jane Yolen has benefited the literary world by collecting prime folktales demonstrating young men from all around the globe who succeed in solving problems by using their wit and intelligence instead of brute force. This is an important message for boys of today who have cut their teeth on the violence found in modern media. The fourteen tales in this collection portray many universal themes found even in today's society: courage, following your dream, generosity, fairness, and the evil tyrant. Each story is provided with a pen and ink illustration showing a high point in the story and leaving the rest to the imagination of the reader.

Review Excerpts
"[Yolen's] versions of these stories are lively, expressively written, ready for reading aloud or telling..." - School Library Journal

"Free of didacticism, these diverse stories give readers something to think about." --Booklist

"This collection is outstanding and well worth any teacher's attention. Teachers that have video games 'fanatics' in their class could possibly use these folk tales with these students. I would suggest that they create the idea for a video game that has no violence patterned after one of the stories. It might get them to thinking about a game that contains something besides the most creative way to annihilate someone or something." - Heart of Texas Reviews

The tales in this collection lend themselves well to oral readings. Prior to reading, one could ask students how they would go about solving such a problem, and write the ideas onto a chart of blackboard. Following the reading, a discussion of alternative endings and solutions to the conflict could encourage both boys and girls to use their wits to solve issues instead of arguments.

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