HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Tales from Silver Lands
Author: Charles J. Finger
Illustrator: Paul Honore
Publisher: Apple, republished in 1989
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Finger, Charles J. Tales from Silver Lands (published in 1924 by Doubleday Page and Company Inc.; republished in 1965 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc.). This 1925 Newbery Award winner is a collection of nineteen folk tales which the author, Charles J. Finger, collected while journeying through Central and South America. These tales come from such diverse places as Honduras, the Orinoco region of Venezuela, Guiana, Cape Horn, Brazil, the Andes, the southern Patagonia area of Argentina, Chile, the pampas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, and Bolivia. Some people will like them while others will not. They are fantastic and even bizarre stories that reflect the pre-Christian beliefs of Native South Americans, with magic, wizards, witches, casting spells, giants, and such things. However, in general, good is rewarded and evil is punished.
As is true of even Western “fairy tales,” many believers object to reading about such things related to enchantment and thus would want to avoid books like this. Obviously, sensitive children who have problems with nightmares should stay away from it too. Others may not care for the archaic narrative style, finding it a little difficult to wade through. Admittedly, the book has an overall “dark” feel to it, but as one who has always liked learning about the folklore of different cultures, I somewhat enjoyed it. Each family will have to make its own decisions on these matters. There are some references to smoking tobacco and a few instances of death and warfare, but nothing that most people would feel is overtly inappropriate or objectionable. Those who are fascinated with mythological explanations from various sources for natural phenomena should find it interesting.