cover image The Tales of Uncle Remus: 2the Adventures of Brer Rabbit

The Tales of Uncle Remus: 2the Adventures of Brer Rabbit

Julius Lester. Dial Books, $16.89 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0272-1

Lester's thoughtful preface to his retelling of the Joel Chandler Harris folktales elucidates the problems inherent in a project of this sort, which, unfortunately, this volume does not entirely resolve. Harris's stories are told in the Gullah dialect, often thought difficult by modern readers. In an attempt to preserve the tales, Lester has rewritten them in his own voice, often with references to ""things that are decidedly contemporary, like shopping malls.'' Lester calls such references characteristic of black storytelling and admits they may be jarring. But his retelling is uneven. For example, in the same story the narrator tells us formally, ``Early one morning, even before Sister Moon had put on her negligee, Brer Fox was up and moving around,'' and then says in dialect, ``Brer rabbit was sho' nuf' mad now.'' Harris's Brer Rabbit comes ``pacin' down de roadlippity-clippity, clippity-lippitydez as sassy ez a jay-bird'' while Lester's comes ``strutting along like he owned the world.'' This collection is important as a way of introducing readers to the Harris tales; it also stands alone as a volume of wonderfully funny folktales. For many purists, though, it will not replace the original stories. Pinkney's drawings, both black-and-white and color, nicely combine realistic detail and fancy. All ages. (March)