cover image Northern Tales

Northern Tales

Howard Norman / Author Pantheon Books $24.95 (343p) ISBN 978-0

There are 116 folktales in this gathering from the myriad cultures of the North. Drawn from regions from Siberia to Greenland, Canada and the Aleutian Islands, the stories represent a diversity of landscapes as well as of human and animal relationships. Arranged, with their origins identified, by folklorist Norman ( Northern Lights ), the tales illuminate arctic and subarctic village life, shamans, hunting and marriage customs. Animals are often central, especially the raven and fox, who take on human qualities. Humor is part of the trickster stories (``Beaver Man Meets Mink Lady''); the Cree Indian heritage preserves the essential Northern hunting experience; mythic elements of intercourse between animals or spirits and humans are pervasive. Cautionary and pedagogical tales, as well as those told at special times and places, round out this chronicle of tribal oral traditions. (Oct.)