Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Front Matter


S INCE the childhood of the races, certain old world stories have appeared in various dress in different nations, all bearing the stamp of the same source: the interest of primitive people in rhyme, repetition, and the attributing of human powers to the brute world. It has been my effort to collect and edit a few of these old folk tales.

Perhaps the earliest of all is The Kid Who Would Not Go, which we have in New England as The Old Woman and Her Pig, and which, in its original form, dates back to Hebrew translations.

From Celtic folk lore comes Munacher and Manacher, told in the earliest version as the search of Munacher for a "gad" with which to "hang Manacher," but which I have adapted to a less thrilling ending.

The Wee, Wee Man, The Hobyahs, and Johnny Cake, the latter story appearing in Grimm as The Pancake, and in old New England as The Gingerbread Boy, are early English peasant stories which have been handed down from one generation to another.

How They Brought Hairlock Home is the typical cumulative story of Norway. The quaint account of Chanticleer and Dame Hen is also Norwegian, and corresponds, in some ways, to our Chicken Little.

From the Danish we have The Wonderful Pot, which appears in varying form in Grimm; and the story of the Old Woman and the North Wind.

The story of Ibbity, which is one of the very few Madagascar tales obtainable, is a typical story of the search of a primitive race for the source of natural forces.

The southern negroes have given us the stories of Mr. Elephant and Mr. Frog, Why the Bear Sleeps All Winter, Little Bear, and Brother Wolf and the Rock. They are among the stories still told in Georgia and the Carolinas.

The Man of Gotham is one of a cycle of old English tales from which was derived our nursery rhyme, The Three Men of Gotham. They all represent the inhabitants of Gotham as being of a character most easily imposed upon.

Perhaps the most interesting of the tales are those of The Gold Bugs, and the Nutcracker and Sugardolly cycle, which were obtained from translations of old German house tales, now many years out of print.

Of the remaining material, part of it is Indian and part old New England.

The raison d'etre for the collecting and editing of these folk tales lies in the deep racial interest which all little children have in the stories which appealed to the race in its childhood, and which gives such material a place in the kindergarten and school as a point of departure over and above that held by the modern story in the teaching of language.

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