Cramer & Del George
International Fairy Tales Online
For readers who want to find fairy tales beyond those made famous by the Grimm Brothers, Disney, and other Western collectors and retellers, two websites that make it easy to locate tales from other parts of the world are fairytalez.com and worldoftales.com. SurLaLune is still our favorite website because it supports both the scholar and the aficionado of fairy tales. However, some of the international fairy tales available through SurLaLune are hard to find. A look at its sitemap reveals some offerings in “Books, Full Text, by title,” such as a collection of Philippine folktales, but the SurLaLune site does not provide a way to search for tales by region or by continent.
Fairytalez organizes available tales by geographical region of the world, and each region has a page that offers a brief introduction to the cultural traditions of that part of the world. The site also organizes tales by authors and collections, and regional introductions provide links to those pages. For example, the introduction to "Native American Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables” explains: “Native American folklore includes North American and Canadian folk tales, with authors like Cornelius Matthews, Zitkala-Ša, and Cyrus MacMillan.” Following the link to the Cyrus MacMillan page, we learn that "Like the Grimms Brothers did in Europe, MacMillan traveled the country seeking tales from the First Nations people in Canada.”
Fairytalez does not name its creators, but it has offices in Copenhagen and Kentucky and is developed in Pakistan. The design of the site is easier on the eye than many other fairy tale sites, which often have intricate and colorful backgrounds and unconventional fonts. Fairytalez is written in a simple style, accessible to a wide audience, including children, and it notes how long each tale takes to read. The site has also a blog with entries such as, “Around the World with Cats: 8 International Folk Tales Starring Felines.”
A single creator, Viktor Andonov, maintains World of Tales. This site is another excellent starting place for readers interested in non-Western tales because it has a navigation bar that organizes tales by continent (minus Antarctica). Andonov introduces himself simply as a Bulgarian who wants to bring traditional tales to today’s electronics-absorbed children. He invites submission of original stories, as do the creators of Fairytalez, but he also invites visitors to submit traditional tales.
There is overlap between Fairytalez and World of Tales. For instance, on both sites, one can easily find Japanese folktales. Both sites have the exact same text for “The Robe of Feathers,” a delightful tale of a fisherman who finds the robe of a Moon Fairy, which he returns to her on the condition that she dance for him.
Though the origins of the most widely-known fairy tales are already international, the Grimm Brothers and others like them have written and collected tales from the oral tradition as a way of reinforcing a national identity. It’s fascinating to see how fairy tales from around the world reflect diverse cultural values and aesthetics while repeating universal themes.