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The Singing Top

The Singing Top
Tales from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei

Author: Margaret Read MacDonald

Malaysia, situated in the heart of southeast Asia, is home to more than twenty million people, who belong to a number of diverse cultural groups, including the Malay, Dusun, Iban, Penan, Sungai, Dyak, and others. Until now, few tales from Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore have made their way into print in English. Renowned folklorist Margaret Read MacDonald has worked with archival material as well as with local storytellers to collect traditional tales from these people, including 15 tales from the ethnic peoples of Borneo. Organized broadly by region, and then by specific groups and themes, this book offers more than 50 tales, including animal tales, stories of magic, trickster tales, humorous stories, place legends and more. Like other titles in the World Folklore Series, it also includes general information about the geography, peoples, and history of Malaysia and surrounding areas; as well as proverbs, songs and games, color photos, and notes on the stories. All levels.


Part 1: The Countries from Which These Stories Come
Part 2: Tales of the Malay People
Part 3: Tales from the Ethnic Peoples of Borneo
Part 4: Proverbs and Pantun
Part 5: Malay Children's Songs and Games
Appendix A: Notes on Tale Sources and Motifs
Appendix B: More Books to Read
Appendix C: Sources Consulted

Type Year Publisher Price Length   ISBN
Hardcover  2009  Libraries Unlimited  $40.00  216 pages  9781591585053  

Additional Information and Resources


MRM TELLS THE PYTHON HUSBAND Filmed in Hawaii, May, 2016 by Jeff Gere.


"This fine collection will appeal to tellers, teachers/librarians, and students from upper elementary school to university. It is also a serious and scholarly study of folklore from this area of the Far East. MacDonald offers information about the countries, explanations of the stories, and source materials for further enrichment. ...Judy Sokoll"  ...School Library Journal

""MacDonald, who has more than a passing interest in Southeast Asia and its rich folk traditions, and is no stranger to Southeast Asian culture, has compiled a nice sampling of folktales from all over peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Singapore.""  ...Southeast Asia Collection

""MacDonald does her typical wonderful job of introducing the places where her stories originate. Simple but clear maps are included that enable her to comment on her visits to the region. She also makes clear that she is not inventing the stories but passing along what she heard and giving credit to those who shared with her. ...In all, The Singing Top is a very rich resource for storytellers."  ...Multicultural Review

""The unusual collection of traditional tales, including proverbs, songs, and games, is the personal work of renowned storyteller MacDonald, who has long assisted in editing other titles in the World Folklore Series. Suitable for all levels, the volume is a good addition to folk and fairy tale collections for young people. "  ...VOYA


Storytelling World Award
Storytelling Collections Category