rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 261
Sources: Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions
Tracy Carr

Information Services Director, Mississippi Library Commission, Jackson, Mississippi

Celebrating Latino Folklore is a three-volume encyclopedia focusing on the Latino culture of the United States. “Folklore” can cover many areas, and a list is provided of the various folklore genres the volumes address, such as folk narrative, folk songs, folk food, folk art, etc. For those of us less familiar with what concepts various folklore genres might entail, there is a table of contents and a grouped list of similar topics in the first volume that covers all three volumes. A simple browse through the books is much more fun, however, as one can come across entries on the Chupacabra (the mythological being that sucks the blood of goats and other small animals that has become a favorite topic of Spanish-speaking UFO enthusiasts), Joan Baez, tequila, Santería, and descansos (the practice of placing a memorial in the physical location where a loved one has died, such as on the side of the highway).

The entries are a mixture of short (500–1,500 words) and long (3,500+ words) entries, depending on the topic, and include suggestions for further reading. The introduction defines the purpose of the work “to provide the reader with a sampling of Latino folklore and to give a small glimpse of the rich cultural heritage that belongs to the Latino population and that has now become part of our American folklore treasure” (xvii). While such a volume is perhaps necessary to those needing a small glimpse of a wide variety of authoritative information, the fact that it is not an exhaustive—or even easily defined—collection of information makes it a little difficult to know if it will meet the needs of users. However, there is a list in the introduction of the folklore of the Latin American countries that the editor chose to include.

Since many library collections feature general folklore materials that include many cultures, such as Rosenberg and Brown’s Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature (ABC-CLIO, 1998), Celebrating Latino Folklore would be a good addition to general collections and provides a starting point for research in this area.

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