Tales from Silver Lands

Tales from Silver Lands

Charles J. Finger (1925)

Read to: 4th - 5th grade

Read independently: 6th - 7th grade

This was a challenging read but the structure of the nineteen stand-alone stories made it possible. After having given up on two of the first three winners I was determined to get through this one. With an average of eleven pages per tale it is a bit like eating an elephant - one bit at a time. That's a big task for a 6y0m boy but chapter at a time we got through this book.

The idea of this book is fun, tales gathered from the author's travels around South America. Personally I have a bit more experience with South America than the average person. Although, I've never heard any references to any of these tales - I was never in search of tales so perhaps I just never came across them, or perhaps they were before my time.

So it's great then that Mr. Finger preserved these tales for all who want to go in search of them, right? Well, it would be if there was any value to these stories. Other than a name here or there they are some of the most forgettable stories I've ever read. If there are morals of the story, as you'd expect, they are difficult to discern. This may be a factor of the dated language, which I excerpt here for demonstration and your own evaluation whether you would enjoy the style:

Watching the Rairu found a thought rise in his mind, a thought that the world would be well only when that order was among men which was in the skies. More, it seemed to him that of all living creatures that walked the earth man was the most destructive, the most wasteful, and the most untrustful. Then one night as he lay at the foot of a palm tree, his heart was full of gladness because of the song of a night-bird, and it came to him somehow to believe that the stars sang to the bird as the bird sang to the stars, so he looked up to find, if possible, which star heard that bird, and he saw one that hung low, one far more beautiful than her fellows. There-after, when the sky grew soft and dark, his eyes sought the Silver One and he waited until the night-bird sang. Like jewels, like living sparks of sound, the music went up, and like a maiden the Silver One listened. When the star dropped in the west and the song-bird ceased, then Rairu was sad and alone, alone as one in a seagirt land whom none may visit.