Cover image for The people could fly American Black folktales
The people could fly American Black folktales
Hamilton, Virginia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[New York, N.Y.] : Knopf, [1987]

Physical Description:
1 audio disc : digital ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 book (178 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm)
General Note:
Compact disc.
He Lion, Bruh Bear, and Bruh Rabbit -- The peculiar such thing -- How Nehemiah got free -- The talking cooter -- John and the devil's daughter -- Tappin, the land turtle -- Papa John's tall tale -- A wolf and little daughter -- Better wait till Martin comes -- Doc Rabbit, Bruh Fox, and Tar Baby -- The people could fly.
Reading Level:
660 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 4.0 44962.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.3 6 Quiz: 08965 Guided reading level: W.
Added Author:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.H154 PE 1987 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Media Kits
PZ8.1.H154 PE 1987 Juvenile Media Kit Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.H154 PE 1987 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Newbery Medalist Virginia Hamilton tells 24 stories that kept her ancestors' culture alive during slavery, from spirited animal trickster tales and robust tall tales to spine-chilling tales of the supernatural and moving narratives of slaves in search of freedom. Twelve of these tales are on the 78-minute CD, including the hauntingly beautiful title story, "The People Could Fly." Booklist praised the recording as "an outstanding and most welcome production that both complements and extends the original work."

Author Notes

Virginia Hamilton was born March 12, 1934. She received a scholarship to Antioch College, and then transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus, where she majored in literature and creative writing. She also studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Her first children's book, Zeely, was published in 1967 and won the Nancy Bloch Award. During her lifetime, she wrote over 40 books including The People Could Fly, The Planet of Junior Brown, Bluish, Cousins, the Dies Drear Chronicles, Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch's Skinny. She was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M. C. Higgins, the Great. She has won numerous awards including three Newbery Honors, three Coretta Scott King Awards, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also the first children's author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1995.

She died from breast cancer on February 19, 2002 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-9. A representative collection of 24 black folktales, dramatically retold with spirit and poetry and illustrated by the Dillons with vigor and beauty.

Publisher's Weekly Review

This widely lauded anthology boasts stunning black-and-white artwork and stirringly told stories with such evocative titles as ``The Beautiful Girl of the Moon Tower'' and ``Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Man.'' All ages. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Gr 2-6-Some Africans flew on shiny black wings before their capture into slavery, and though they shed their plumes when forced to board the crowded slave ships, those people with the flying magic still had their special power. Hamilton's version of this old tale of longing and hope was the title story of her 1985 collection (Knopf); it has been read, anthologized, and told so often as to seem truly timeless. The Dillons add much to savor in this elegant picture-book rendering. A richly robed band of men, women, and children flying happily over an African landscape wraps around the book cover, rooting the story in early times. Black endpapers embossed with shiny feathers mark the loss of wings. Rich, deep-hued paintings decorate each spread, a smaller view on the left with a larger scene on the right. A simple framing scheme encases art and text in thick lines on three sides; the top remains open and draws the eye upward with the ascending figures. Early scenes of slave misery ground viewers with darkened tones. Sadly, not all of the people could fly. But those who couldn't continued to tell the marvelous tale, even in their eventual freedom. The book is a lovely tribute to Hamilton. Some of her original notes on the tale appear as preface and afterword.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
He Lion, Bruh Bear, and Bruh Rabbit, And Other Animal Talesp. 3
He Lion, Bruh Bear, and Bruh Rabbitp. 5
Doc Rabbit, Bruh Fox, and Tar Babyp. 13
Tappin, the Land Turtlep. 20
Bruh Alligator and Bruh Deerp. 26
Bruh Lizard and Bruh Rabbitp. 31
Bruh Alligator Meets Troublep. 35
Wolf and Birds and the Fish-Horsep. 43
The Beautiful Girl of the Moon Tower, And Other Tales of the Real, Extravagant, and Fancifulp. 51
The Beautiful Girl of the Moon Towerp. 53
A Wolf and Little Daughterp. 60
Manuel Had a Riddlep. 65
Papa John's Tall Talep. 76
The Two Johnsp. 81
Wiley, His Mama, and the Hairy Manp. 90
John and the Devil's Daughter, And Other Tales of the Supernaturalp. 105
John and the Devil's Daughterp. 107
The Peculiar Such Thingp. 116
Little Eight Johnp. 121
Jack and the Devilp. 126
Better Wait Till Martin Comesp. 133
Carrying the Running-Aways, And Other Slave Tales of Freedomp. 139
Carrying the Running-Awaysp. 141
How Nehemiah Got Freep. 147
The Talking Cooterp. 151
The Riddle Tale of Freedomp. 156
The Most Useful Slavep. 160
The People Could Flyp. 166
Bibliographyp. 175