Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Harold Courlander’s The Tiger’s Whisker and Other Tales and Legends from Asia and the Pacific consists of thirty-one tales complemented by twenty-two pen-and-ink illustrations. Seven of the tales are taken from ancient sources, eleven of them are taken from collections published between the mid-nineteenth century and 1948, and the remaining thirteen were collected by Courlander himself from oral sources. The stories vary between one and ten pages in length in a small-page format and also differ in level of sophistication in both style and message. The tales are grouped by place of origin: five tales from Burma; four each from India and China; three each from Indonesia (specifically Java) and Kashmir, which lies largely in northwestern India on the border with Pakistan; two tales each from Korea, Japan, and Arabia (the desert peninsula in southwest Asia that includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates); and one tale each from Malaya (in the Republic of Malaysia), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Persia (Iran), Laos, Polynesia, and Yap. The difference in sophistication is explained in part by the area of origin, the more complex tales originating in India, China, Japan, Persia, and Arabia.

The three tales from Indonesia are all fool tales, featuring the comedic team of Guyo and Kono, who demonstrate how not to approach the problems of life. By their nature as fool tales, they are among the least sophisticated of...

(The entire section is 505 words.)