The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
By Mary Dixon Weidler,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Two dozen folktales full of humor and history.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Stories offer hope through the generations amid longing, suffering, and loss.
Positive Role Models
Stories feature clever underdog heroes, slaves who triumph over their masters.
Violence & Scariness
Themes of separation and isolation. Characters threaten each other and are threatened by witchcraft, animals, and even the Devil himself. Violence and death loom.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this anthology of 24 folktales features stories told by and about African-American slaves. It includes animal tales, including characters such as Bruh Rabbit, fanciful fairy tales, and stories of the supernatural, along with accounts of slavery and efforts to gain freedom. It's a must-read for anyone studying American history.
Where to Read
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
The theme of freedom prevails in these 24 African-American folktales, most of which came to this country on a "slave boat out of Africa." Each story tells of a loss -- of family, beliefs, customs, and language -- but also celebrates the rich heritage and spirit that continues despite these losses. The folktales center on several themes. In the first section, which includes animal tales, characters such as Bruh Rabbit and Tappin the land turtle take on the characteristics of people met in this new country. Fanciful fairy tales and stories of the supernatural are also included, along with accounts of slavery and efforts to gain freedom.
Is It Any Good?
This anthology of stories told by and about African-American slaves, and accounts from their history, should be required reading for anyone studying American history. Animal tales based on stories brought over from Africa by the slaves' forebears communicate through the antics of their clever underdog heroes the slaves' desires for freedom and triumph over their masters, while other fanciful stories convey hope for the future.
Author Virginia Hamilton aptly captures the longing and the loss, the hope and the hurt, that carried these stories (often passed on orally) through the generations. The black-and-white drawings that illustrate some selections are rendered in a unique style. The compositions are bold, and some elements break free from their borders, echoing story themes. Moods and feelings are captured with shades and shadows.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the power of storytelling. These stories are more than just mere fantasy: What did they mean to the storytellers and the listeners?
- Author: Virginia Hamilton
- Illustrators: Diane Dillon, Leo Dillon
- Genre: Folklore
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publication date: January 1, 1985
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 7
- Number of pages: 168
- Award: Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Great Movies with Black Characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate