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Tatterhood and Other Tales

(Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  74 reviews
These twenty-five traditional tales come from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. All the central characters are spirited females—decisive heroes of extraordinary courage, wit, and achievement who set out to determine their own fate. Some of their stories are comic, some adventurous, some eerie, and some magical. The Chicago Sun-Times writes: "A sparkling gathering of ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published January 1st 1978)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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Now as a general collection of global folk and fairy tales featuring strong and courageous women, Tatterwoood: Feminist Folktales from Around the World has been a truly lovely and wonderful (even magical) reading experience. For the sorry fact remains that in so very many folk and fairytales, female characters, even if they are seemingly the main protagonists, are far far too often ridiculously passive and often even rather silly, which can certainly and truly get rather annoying and frustrating ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: traditional
I have owned this book since I was a child. This book is full of tales from all over the world and is full of strong female characters. Though these stories may not be widely known to American children, they are thrilling and full of adventure. Full of strong heroines that young girls can look up to, nobody is waiting for a knight in shining armor.

I love this book because as you are reading it, you realize that this is unlike any other collection of tales. The women are strong and capable of do
Shiloh Pearson
This book was one of the ones I was most excited to read from my text set! The thought of a book filled with folktales from around the world, all centered on heroines sounded like a dream. There are 25 folktales in this collection, but only 8 of them have an accompanying illustration. So, if I were to read some of these to my students, I would either find my own illustrations, or even have my students create illustrations after reading them. Each tales is less than 10 pages long, so these would ...more
Amy (Sun)
These were absolutely lovely. It's a group of fairytales collected by a feminist press. Most of the main characters are female, and 99% of the female characters in the story are proactive, brave, inventive, resourceful. It's everything I never read when I was a kid, and nothing like the passive bland princesses in the Grimm fairytales, or in Perrault's fairy tales. This is also a very diverse collection, it has stories from not just the standard European sources, but also Chinese, Jewish, Africa ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[Nerd note: The cover and page count in this listing don't match the copy I borrowed, but I ran into a couple of roadblocks correcting it, so I'm leaving it as is. There are 210 pages in my hardcover copy, the cover matches a "Kindle edition" that's not linked to this one, and the description reads "twelve folk tales" although there are thirteen included in the copy I've got.]

Tatterhood is a solid collection of 13 folktales, all of which feature female protagonists, told with a young audience in
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was the beginning of my feminist awakening.

It was published in 1978, and I discovered it in the early 1980s on the children's section of my hometown library. I couldn't have been older than 10 or 12. I grew up in a very religious, very conservative, and very traditional home.

Before this book, it had never dawned on me to question why there were fairy tales celebrating the bravery, resourcefulness, and abilities of boys....but not girls.

For reasons I could not articulate at the time, T
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my absolute favorite short story/ multicultural fairy tale books as a child.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tatterhood is born riding a goat and waving a wooden spoon because her mother the queen disobeyed the witch who allowed her to conceive, but her twin sister is sweet and fair. Tatterhood, who always looks tattered, goes on a journey to find the troll who traded her sister’s head for a cow’s and defeats him. She meets a prince who asks why she dresses as she does and rides a goat. She immediately turns the goat to a horse, her tatters to finery, and her spoon into a wand. She and the prince live ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 starts, to be honest. This was a pretty good book, I read it in one evening. It's a small collection of old fairy tales with a more feminist bent to them, and that part I really enjoyed. A couple of the tales were really bizarre, but most had good messages if you're into the whole "looking for a deeper meaning" thing or something that is a good teaching/learning opportunity with your children. There's also a section in the end that spells out some of those deeper meanings a bit, an ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
The stories themselves are great, and also not ones I had read before. However, I found many of the retellings somewhat lackluster, and I was also disappointed by how skewed it was towards European folktales, especially those from the British Isles. For better or worse (and I'm going to pretty confidently go with for worse) Americans have access to a better kept catalogue of European folktales than of folktales from anywhere else in the world, and this was even more evident thirty years ago. Whi ...more
Tatterhood is a pretty good mix of folk tales from around the world starring female heroes. I particularly liked the titular "Tatterhood" (about a terrible, unladylike older twin who saves her younger twin from an unfortunate magical encounter, along the way meeting a potential spouse accepting of who she is), "Janet and Tamlin" (about a lord's daughter who saves her lover from the Queen of Elfland so they can marry), and "Clever Manka" (about a mayor's wife who gets her husband's respect by mak ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens-books
This wasn't as good as I expected. Out of the 25 tales, I only liked 7:
Kamala and the Seven Thieves, The Young Head of the Family, The Legend of Knockmany, Kupti and Imani, The Lute Player, Clever Manka, and The Shepherd of Myddvai and the Lake Maiden.

The author's other book The Maid of the North, has some good stories too. But both books are not as strong as I would like. Though both are better than the Yolen book of feminist tales, which really didn't have any that I liked very much... I was
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I have mixed feelings about this book. While it's nice to read stories where the woman is the protagonist, some of the stories were just sheer nonsense. I know some of these stories are old, but some of them have some of the strangest and most wtf plot elements. Perhaps it's my cynical eye, but the stories were a real hit and miss. A couple of them were actually quite clever, so this book gets 3.5 stars. ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My aunt got this for me when I was just a baby. I’m glad that I had this book growing up. It provided different perspectives whilst I was being brought up in a traditional Catholic environment. Pretty sure my dad would’ve burnt the book, if he could’ve foreseen it would give his little girl the crazy notion that she didn’t have to be meek and obedient to have value.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightful collection of folktales. Stories of strong women taking on the world and making waves. I read a few to my boys and they loved hearing about people fighting monster and saving the day. They laughed and laughed about the 6 wives who loved onions. This was such a fun read for me alone and to read with my boys.
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Human beings
Shelves: favorites, c-s-faves
Essential reading for all children, no matter their gender or gender expression.
Tatterhood is the standout story. I don't know how many times I read it to my kids. My son & daughter (both cis-gender,) spent many happy hours as children rampaging around the house with wooden spoons, whacking imaginary trolls.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wicked good ramble of well-told fairy-tale yarns, diverse enough to explore all manner of episodes, specific and insightful enough to find and see women at the center of those tales. Well worth meandering through.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I was introduced to this book well before taking a college course in my 30's. These females don't sit idly by waiting for a prince to save them. A quick read (thankfully for my class!) and at times funny, and most definitely thought provoking. ...more
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
It was perfectly enjoyable reading for an afternoon when I did not want to think, but I've read several of these in other formats already where I enjoyed them more. I appreciated the global nature of the collection though. ...more
T. Finley
An assortment of folk tales featuring strong, clever, female protagonists who take the initiative when facing obstacles. A refreshing change from traditional fairy tale collections.
Did I like it? Yes.
Would I reread it? Probably.
Would I recommend it? Yes.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of positive stories.
Sally Rhett
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best folktale collections I have
CreateEveryday Classroom
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
such a breath of fresh air when it comes to folk story telling.
empowering women characters.
the book is worth the purchase just for the story of Tatterhood although you will enjoy many more too
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books as a child!
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tw: It's folk tales, so ya kno, the normal traumatising ish

Love em, adore em, need more, will have to resist buying the rest of her books just to display em
Satine Storer
It was ok. It was pretty good. Some of the stories were a bit dry. Maybe give it 3.5 stars
Greta Hood
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love these stories so much!
Mar 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m already a big fan of fairytales, but make them all stories where negative female tropes have been broken, and I’m in love!
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
Luisa Benson
8/31/16 I was drawn to th title Tatterhood: Feminist Folktales From Around the World by Ehtel Phelps but was a bit disappointed with the contents. The introduction by Gayle Forman was very compelling, but the stories themselves fell short. Phelps researched and retells folktales from around the globe that depict women and girls as strong and capable characters, a contrast from the traditional poised, pretty and well-behaved females like Cinderella and Snow White. Tatterhood, a rebellious princes ...more
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Other books in the series

Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World (5 books)
  • The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World
  • The Hunter Maiden: Feminist Folktales from Around the World
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