Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

These tales are distinctive, not only for their appealing stories but also for the rich, descriptive language that Charles Finger uses to pass them on to his readers. While traveling throughout South America, the author collected legends at first hand from South American Indians; nineteen of these stories are featured as separate chapters in Tales from Silver Lands. Finger retells the legends in a direct and charming manner, elaborating on details that appeal to the senses, much as the original storytellers must have done. Each story is retold with respect, and many are prefaced with descriptions of the persons who told them. Woodcuts by Paul Honore are found at the beginning of each chapter, contributing to the magical flavor of the stories. These tales of origin and enchantment describe the native creatures and natural settings of South American countries and reflect the traditional values of those who tell them. The weaknesses and foibles of humans are writ large, with greed, avarice, sloth, gluttony, and selfishness vividly portrayed. Traditional values are demonstrated in the persons of virtuous heroes who are brave, strong, faithful, persistent, and unselfish.

The origin tales include “A Tale of Three Tails,” from Honduras, which tells how the rabbit, deer, and rat came to have short tails and why the armadillo has a thick, leathery skin. Other stories explain the origins of seals, llamas, and monkeys. The quests of brave young men are...

(The entire section is 501 words.)