Haiti and The Magic Orange Tree

Traveling through the Haitian countryside in the 1970’s, Diane harvested a rich collection of over 400 tales. Generations of children and adults around the globe have experienced the spirit of Haiti through these remarkable folk tales. Diane’s ALA Notable book, The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales, in print since 1978, has become a classic among storytellers, people who love good stories, and those eager to learn more about Haitian culture, story, and song.

Magic Orange Tree Painting

The Magic Orange Tree

The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales

Illustrated by Elsa Henriquez. Random House–Schocken, New York, 1997, softbound ISBN 0–8052–1077–6. An American Library Association Notable. Recommended for families and all ages.
When Diane Wolkstein, herself a well–known storyteller, traveled throughout the Haitian countryside in search of stories, she harvested a rich collection of twenty–seven tales, each of which is illuminated by fascinating introductory notes. From orange trees growing at the command of a child to talking fish, these stories present us with a world of wonder, delight, and mystery.

Learn more about the book and read some of the reviews!

Order the book from Amazon!

A special Spanish edition of The Magic Orange Tree to benefit Haiti

El Naranjo Mágico y Otros Cuentos Haitianos, a special Spanish–language edition of The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales, was published in 2012 by Acoger y Compartir, a charitable organization in Madrid, Spain. This special edition features twelve of the twenty–seven stories from the original book in a new translation by AyC’s Paz Pruneda, a professional translator and supporter of their efforts to improve the lives of the people of Haiti. Besides being an inviting and engaging book for Spanish readers, it also features photos taken in Haiti, as well as illustrations of the stories by the students of the Instituto Pedro Álvarez de Sotomayor in Manzanares, Spain. All of the proceeds from the sale of this edition will go to support Acoger y Compartir’s projects in Haiti.

What readers are saying…

“[The Magic Orange Tree] holds a special place in my heart. It is the story that has gleaned the most consistent joyful response in the years of telling to children in 37 states and for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe.” — Susan Klein (in an interview from “The Oral Tradition Today — An Introduction to the Art of Storytelling” by Liz Warren)

“Diane Wolkstein will go down as someone who made Haiti known to children and adults in America and around the world.” — Raymond Joseph, Haitian Ambassador to the U.S.

Read more reviews…

What critics are saying…

“Wolkstein is a person who can bridge cultures in such a way as to bring understanding, wit, humor and moral meaning along with the words.” — Barre Toelken, Journal of Latin American Literature & Arts

“This book is sheer delight. Grown–ups and children of all ages, will revel in it.— Lillian Ross, The New Yorker

“It is a joy to have this book, not only to read it, but to listen to it. The Magic Orange Tree is a gift.” — P.L. Travers

Korean Edition of “Mother of the Waters” and Audio CD

Girl scrubbing the old woman’s back (from the Korean edition of “Mother of the Waters”) “Mother of the Waters”, a story from the The Magic Orange Tree,    is now published in Korean and comes with beautiful illustrations by Hansol Education. The Great Books Foundation has released an audio CD of the same story.

The Magic Orange Tree CD

Awards, Honors & Reviews

Free teacher lesson plans: Right–click to download

Available digitally from iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD Baby and Bandcamp (MP3, FLAC).

Preview/stream the album…

Performance Videos from The Magic Orange Tree

The stories and songs from The Magic Orange Tree bring joy to many occasions.

Diane telling The Magic Orange Tree in Central Park

Telling Tipingee to 5th graders at PS 242 in Harlem

Horse and Toad (with Joy Kelly Smith) at Scandinavia House

A Storyteller’s Story: Diane’s Time in Haiti

Diane Wolkstein: A Storyteller’s Story explores the extraordinary career of one of the world’s most celebrated storytellers. Through archival footage, in–depth interviews, and spellbinding performances, this thirty–seven minute film illuminates the power of storytelling and shows one woman’s courageous journey to communicate heart–to–heart.Official Selection: Women’s International Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival. This segment features interviews with Wolkstein, musician Shirley Keller, and Ambassador of the Haitian Republic Raymond Joseph, focusing on Diane’s time spent in Haiti, where she gathered the stories and songs that eventually became the classic book The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales.

Learn more about A Storyteller’s Story

This DVD is region–free and playable worldwide. Please make sure your equipment can play NTSC video.

More Haitian Books!

The Banza

A Haitian story of friendship between a small goat and a tiger in which the courage to sing the story of one’s heart brings freedom. Illustrated by Marc Brown. Featured on PBS’ Reading Rainbow and Storytime. Out of Print, $40.00 Visit our shop for more information and to purchase…

Bouki Dances the Kokioko

In this comical tale from Haiti, awkward Bouki wins the dance contest while sly Malice walks away with the prize. Illustrated by Jesse Sweetwater. An Aesop’s Awards Accolade Book. Out of Print, $30.00 Visit our shop for more information and to purchase…

Photos from Diane’s trips to Haiti

View the entire gallery on Flickr.

A Short History of Haiti

Haiti’s original inhabitants were the Arawak/Taino Indians. In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island, claiming it for Spain. Naming the island Hispaniola, he conquered the island in the name of “God, Glory, and Gold.” Under Spanish rule, the native population was decimated by overwork, exhaustion, and disease. To replace the dying native population, the Spaniards forcibly brought Africans to labor on their plantations. By 1697, the French claimed the western third of the island that would become Haiti. Under French colonial rule, the enslaved population in Haiti continued to suffer. Inspired in part by the French revolution in 1789, the Haitian slaves, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, rebelled. Although L’Ouverture was captured by French forces, once the flame of freedom was lit, it could not be extinguished. The people of Haiti fought the French until January 1, 1804, at which time Jean Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti the first free black republic and opened its doors to any slaves seeking refuge. The new country was named Haiti, a Taino word for “mountainous country.” The Haitian Revolution remains the only successful revolution led by a population of recently freed slaves. Since its independence, Haiti has faced a multitude of adversities. Threatening Haiti with reconquest, France, in 1825, forced Haitians to pay millions of dollars until 1947. The Americans occupied Haiti in 1915 setting up an oppressive Haitian army; and then, in the 1980′s, they undermined Haiti’s agricultural economy with subsidized free rice. The rise of Haitian dictators robbed the country of millions of dollars and created large gaps between the rich and poor. Nonetheless, in the midst of their many trials and tribulations, the Haitian people have maintained their dignity and freedom; and through their art, music, religion, stories and traditions they have created one of the most unique and vibrant cultures in the world.

Gina Ulysse, Elizabeth Napp, and Diane Wolkstein.

Raising Funds for Haiti at our CD Release Party!

Haitian Ambassador Raymond Joseph and Diane Highlights from the Release Party

Resource Links

Have another exciting resource you think we should add? E–mail us at wolkstein.publicity@gmail.com. Thank you!

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