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Any folklore experts out there? I need help!

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I have a problem with my PB! And I am freaking out about now. My editor sent my picture book to be vetted and the expert hadn't heard of the folklore of Why the Trees Lose Their Leaves. She has asked me if I can find another reliable source in addition to the one I have which is First People.

Anyone out there that can help, I will forever be grateful to!!!

Sharon
#1 - March 09, 2015, 10:05 AM
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Schriscoe, do you mean you need to find the same (or a similar) story in a different people's folklore? Or just a different source for it existing at all? And sorry to be dense here, but by First People do you mean Native Americans/First Nations?

Sorry about the stress.
#2 - March 09, 2015, 10:09 AM
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Thanks Katie!

A different source. Apparently she's needing more than one. The expert they use to vet it is also checking with other sources so hopefully it is just him that hasn't ever heard of it.

And First People is the website source I used for the legend to create my story.
Here is the link:

http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/WhyTheTreesLoseTheirLeaves-Cherokee.html
#3 - March 09, 2015, 10:15 AM
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You might try calling the Cherokee history museum at Cherokee Nation (on Tenn/NC border). They might have someone on hand who could help.
#4 - March 09, 2015, 10:19 AM
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You might try calling the Cherokee history museum at Cherokee Nation (on Tenn/NC border). They might have someone on hand who could help.

Great idea! I will do that! Thank you!
#5 - March 09, 2015, 10:21 AM
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I checked the story at that website. What would bother me is that there is no source information there.

And what's interesting is that I've bumped into a very similar story in a McGraw-Hill reading program, their K-6 Wonders program. I can't remember if it's 4th or 5th grade. I wonder if the McGraw-Hill story is based on the website story, or the other way around?
#6 - March 09, 2015, 01:33 PM
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Hi Sharon,

I don't know if this would be helpful, but I just did a search and came across this book and thought if might be helpful:

Keepers of Life: Discovering Plants through Native American Stories and Earth Activities for Children  by Michael J. Caduto
http://www.amazon.com/Keepers-Life-Discovering-American-Activities/dp/1555913873

http://p-e-a-c-e.3dcartstores.com/Keepers-of-Life-Discovering-Plants-Through-Native-American-Stories-and-Earth-Activities-for-Children_p_15.html

Here is the author's website:
http://www.p-e-a-c-e.net/

Maybe he could provide you with some more info.

 :goodluck  I'll keep looking for anything else that may be helpful! 

Sue   :flowers2
#7 - March 09, 2015, 02:07 PM
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 02:37 PM by Sue G. »
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I checked the story at that website. What would bother me is that there is no source information there.

And what's interesting is that I've bumped into a very similar story in a McGraw-Hill reading program, their K-6 Wonders program. I can't remember if it's 4th or 5th grade. I wonder if the McGraw-Hill story is based on the website story, or the other way around?

Good question! Do you have any contact info I can use to get in touch.

Thanks Harold!
#8 - March 09, 2015, 09:00 PM
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Thank you Sue! I'll reach out to him and see if he can add anything!  :love5
#9 - March 09, 2015, 09:01 PM
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Good question! Do you have any contact info I can use to get in touch.
You might find some information on their website--but I have contacts there myself. I'll see what I can find out. Now I'm curious.
#10 - March 10, 2015, 03:51 AM
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 :thankyou Harold!

If Arbordale can't find another reliable source the Cherokee connection will have to be removed and that just ---well it stinks. :(

Even school systems use this same site for Common Core Standards testing.
#11 - March 10, 2015, 11:19 AM
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 02:29 PM by Schriscoe »
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So I had a look at the story, which is extremely similar to the one on the First People site. The only difference that I can see is that they turned "the Creator" into "the frost king." No source information in the book. It's the in the 5th grade Wonders "Literature Anthology"--I will track down the editor.  I would not be surprised if it was based on the version on the First People site, but we will see.

What research have you done in print sources? There are old print collections of folktales you would need a university library to consult, or access to them via interlibrary loan.
#12 - March 10, 2015, 05:07 PM
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So I had a look at the story, which is extremely similar to the one on the First People site. The only difference that I can see is that they turned "the Creator" into "the frost king." No source information in the book. It's the in the 5th grade Wonders "Literature Anthology"--I will track down the editor.  I would not be surprised if it was based on the version on the First People site, but we will see.

What research have you done in print sources? There are old print collections of folktales you would need a university library to consult, or access to them via interlibrary loan.

Thank you Harold! I hope the editor there will have something.

I haven't been able to find any in print that doesn't link back to First People. Katie Hall spoke with the owner to that site and he said that he has gathered all these folklores over the years and placed them on his site but he can't remember where this one came from. Katie says that we may need to change the Cherokee part to 'a folklore of unknown origin' if we can't find another source. She, just like me is puzzled because all of the school curriculum we find leads back to First People. And you would think that it being in the school systems it would be a reliable source. At least that was what I thought as well as her.

I am going to call my local SCBWI today and see if they have any advice.

Thank you again! I truly appreciate your help!
#13 - March 11, 2015, 12:21 AM
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Sharon, My grandmother used to tell me this same story, except that it was a Christmas story, with a little red bird and Santa. (The big trees wouldn't offer shelter to the little red bird because they wanted Santa to pick them for his Christmas tree, but the little tree did not think he would be picked and offered the bird shelter. Instead of losing leaves as punishment, Santa picked the little tree and not the big ones.) I've also seen a similar red bird/Christmas story as a book, or maybe more than one book (don't know titles and couldn't find when I looked up just now - wish I had more info for you). When I first started writing picture books, I wanted to tell this story to honor my Grandma, but then found out that it wasn't her story as I had thought as a child, but a more common story/folklore. (This story has been passed down in my family for at least three generations now - not sure where my grandma heard the story originally - maybe it was passed down to her too.) I don't know what the origins of the story are. Wish I did. Though similar, the origins may be different for the Christmas story vs. the losing leaves story. Good luck!

edited to add more details
#14 - March 11, 2015, 08:38 AM
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 08:58 AM by Stephanie Ruble »
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Another thought. Have you tried reaching out to Debbie Reese? She might know more about the origin of this story if it's a First People story. Here's her website: http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/ I think she's also a member of this board.
#15 - March 11, 2015, 09:10 AM
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Thank you Stephanie! I will see if I can get in touch with Debbie!

And thank you for sharing the story about your Grandmother.  :hug
#16 - March 11, 2015, 09:26 AM
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Email sent to Debbie! Hope she can help. Thanks again Stephanie!
#17 - March 11, 2015, 09:32 AM
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I hope she can help. Good luck, Sharon!
#18 - March 11, 2015, 12:01 PM
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So, the editor who worked on the 5th grade book in the Wonders program is no longer there, but the editor I spoke to told me that for that and a number of other stories that they commissioned (rather than licensed) the procedure was to do online research to find something like the kind of story they wanted. Then they would hand over what they found to a writer. The story I told you about was written "to spec." So I'm thinking that First People was likely to be the source--and it's very disappointing that First People didn't keep better track of their sources.

You should not be surprised that school curricula sources point back to the one First People source. Teachers are not academic researchers.

I have to tell you that there's a lot of quicksand on the Internet. The World Wide Web has now been around for 20 years, and over that time, rather than more and more original "content" coming onto it, either from books being scanned or stories or information being written new, there's a strong tendency for stuff to get reused over and over. Even now, there's a lot of print material that is not available on the Internet.

It's entirely possible that this story, even taking into account Stephanie's version, could go back no farther than the 19th century, when it was published in a newspaper or magazine. From there, it passed into the oral tradition, got retold in Stephanie's family, and in other families, and got back into print.

And that is why as a general rule when researching folktales you need to have multiple sources, at least one of them print, and confidence that they don't all go back to a piece of "fakelore" written in 1873 ... (I know you know this. I'm saying it as a general point to others working on folktales).

By the way, have you come across Aaron Shepard's website? He's a picture book folktale writer and he has information about the process on his site, or at least he used to.

Good luck! Sorry I couldn't be more help.
#19 - March 11, 2015, 03:44 PM
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Thank you Harold! I truly appreciate your looking into this. And I guess I have learned a very good lesson on folklores and researching and making sure that it is verifiable BEFORE writing about it...sad that my book with have to be changed from Cherokee folklore to Folklore of Unknown Origin but I guess it is was it is and Katie still seems to love the actual story and is excited about it going to print next month. So at least that's comforting.

She does have another of my folklores in her short list. BUT this one is in print and is verifiable. I choose the one on Why The Trees Lose Their Leaves because of the message of kindness that it portrays so beautifully. And it was one of the folklores that hadn't been covered much...

Thank you again for all of your help.

Sharon
#20 - March 11, 2015, 08:07 PM
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Hi Sharon,

I came across the PB,  Pine and the Winter Sparrow by Alexis York Lumbard.  In the reviews, it mentions that it is an ancient legend attributed to Cherokee lineage and I noticed they mention a forward to the book by storyteller Robert Lewis, of Cherokee, Navajo and Apache lineage.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937786331/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1937786331&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

I wonder if you might find some more info by reaching out to Robert Lewis or if you are able to get a copy of the book, perhaps there is a link to a source in the author's notes.   Hope this helps!

 :goodluck!  Your book is wonderful whether you are able to reference the Cherokee ties or not!

Hugs,
Sue 
#21 - March 12, 2015, 04:43 AM
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Hi Sue!

Yep...we found that book too during our search. Although I can't say I am excited to find another PB similar...that kind of stinks.

Katie spoke with a Robert ( I am guessing it's the same one) and he cannot say without a doubt that this is a Cherokee legend. And unless it is without a doubt Arbordale won't call it that.

SO here is where we are. Katie loves the book and thinks it will stand good on it's own as a sparrow/migration PB and teach a valuable, subtle lesson on kindness. We will take out the folklore part and fill the Creative Minds section that had info on the Cherokee with sparrow/migration. It isn't what I submitted which was supposed to be a folklore but I am happy with this compromise and the fact that she loves the book means a lot. :)

Thank you everyone! And she says IF anyone ever comes forward with proof, we can change it in during another printing of the book.

Katie is wonderful! And if any of you are following along with #PBPARTY she has joined the party :)
#22 - March 12, 2015, 11:05 AM
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That is wonderful, Sharon!  I think it sounds like a great compromise!  I'm so happy for you!

Sue  :flowers2
#23 - March 12, 2015, 11:36 AM
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Good resolution, Sharon! :partytime
#24 - March 12, 2015, 12:50 PM
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 :thankyou everyone!
#26 - March 12, 2015, 08:31 PM
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I did a Google search for experts on Cherokee folklore. Perhaps a question to these folks could help. http://www.wcu.edu/academics/departments-schools-colleges/cas/casdepts/anthsoc/cherokee-studies/cherokee-studies-experts/
#27 - March 16, 2015, 07:53 AM
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Sharon - happy to hear it got worked out and Katie loves it! Though sorry it wasn't the way you hoped it would work out. And Congratulations on your new book too!  :flowers2
#28 - March 17, 2015, 11:16 PM
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I did a Google search for experts on Cherokee folklore. Perhaps a question to these folks could help. http://www.wcu.edu/academics/departments-schools-colleges/cas/casdepts/anthsoc/cherokee-studies/cherokee-studies-experts/

Thanks Debbie! Will do. That's actually not far from me and #2 on my daughters college list a few years ago.

Thanks Stephanie! :)
#29 - March 18, 2015, 04:09 AM
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