The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
published in 1993


Appropriate age:
Older Kid (age 8-11)
Reading level:
Grade 4
Genre: Fiction
Cultures: Americas, United States, African American
Subjects: Fairies, Fairy Tale


Virginia Hamilton, Newbery Medal winner and recipient of the National Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, teams up with two-time Caldecott Medal winners, Leo and Diane Dillon, in this classic collection of American black folktales, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. By turns droll, grisly, and spine-tingling, the 24 stories celebrate the indomitable human spirit, surviving under the most crushing circumstances of slavery. Traditionally, storytelling has helped people to push through sorrow and pain, especially when the stories are saturated with magic, mysticism, and fantasy. Bruh Rabbit, He Lion, Tar Baby, and other animals populate many of the stories. In others, John, the traditional trickster hero, outwits the slave owner time after time to win his freedom. Included with this very special edition is a CD featuring the commanding voices of Hamilton and actor James Earl Jones. Eleven selections, including "The Peculiar Such Thing, " "John and the Devil's Daughter, " "A Wolf and Little Daughter, " and "The People Could Fly, " bring to life the rhythm and lyrical energy of Hamilton's text. Leo and Diane Dillon's strikingly beautiful black and white illustrations continue to mesmerize and haunt the reader. (All ages) --Emilie Coulter