For centuries, people around the world have been telling stories about tricksters—characters who solve problems by using their wits to fool others. Sometimes, these tricksters want to help people. Other times, they use their cleverness for selfish reasons. Occasionally, they aren’t as clever as they think and are tricked themselves. Although trickster tales from different countries are similar in many ways, story details, problems to be solved and the personalities of characters reflect the beliefs and values of the culture from which they come. Not only are trickster stories entertaining, they also teach readers things about themselves. And they show how, through wit and inventiveness, unlikely or underappreciated characters often can succeed.
In A Book of Tricksters, Jon C. Stott has collected traditional trickster tales from 14 different countries, including “How Anansi Brought Stories to the People” (Ghana), “How Zhao Paid His Taxes” (China), “How Kancil Built a Crocodile Bridge” (Indonesia) and “How Maui Discovered the Secret of Fire” (Hawaii).