HILLCHILD: A FOLKLORE CHAPBOOK,
ABOUT, FOR, AND BY WEST VIRGINIA CHILDREN

Review by Phyllis Wilson Moore
May 1, 2002

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Phyllis Wilson Moore is a native West Virginian, a writer, and a literary historian.  She is consultant for the website MountainLit, sponsored by the Bridgeport Public Library in Bridgeport, West Virginia. 


In April 2002 The West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State College, Fairmont, West Virginia, published the first issue of HILLCHILD: A FOLKLORE CHAPBOOK about, for, and by WEST VIRGINIA CHILDREN, co-edited by Noel W. Tenney and Dr. Judy P. Byers. The title for this Folklife Center’s publication comes from the final line in “Hill Hunger,” the signature poem of former West Virginia poet, Louise Mayfield Roberts. 

The theme of the premiere issue is “The Story,” and the cover showcases ink and pencil drawings, done in three colors by Noel W. Tenney, depicting scenes from tales of West Virginia’s very own legendary logging hero, Tony Beaver (Paul Bunyan’s cousin). 

Noted West Virginia artist John W. Randolph’s illustrations can be found throughout the 31 pages of the chapbook, along with those of students from Mrs. Susan Long’s 5th grade class at Union Elementary School (Upshur County). The class participated in this first HILLCHILD by providing both drawings and their reactions to the stories. Their contributions add a special flavor to the chapbook. 

Examples of stories included are “The Little Rag Doll,” a ghost tale from THE TELLTALE LILAC BUSH AND OTHER WEST VIRGINIA GHOST TALES by Ruth Ann Musick and, of course, tales of the exploits of Tony Beaver and others. 

The issue closes with a story, perfect for springtime, contributed by West Virginia children’s author Cheryl Ware. Ware is the author of three middle-grade novels:  FLEA CIRCUS SUMMER (1997), CATTY- CORNERED (1998), and VENOLA IN LOVE (2000).  Set in West Virginia, the novels feature a feisty young protagonist, Venola Mae Cutright. In this story, the opinionated Venola Mae must come to a decision about eating or not eating the, shall we say, highly odoriferous spring delicacy, ramps. Venola Mae is quite “bent out of shape” when her family insists she accompany them to the Elkins, West Virginia Annual International Ramp Festival and Cook-Off.       

Will Venola Mae return to school reeking of ramps?  Will “ramp breath” ruin her chances for a meaningful relationship? To find out, obtain a copy of HILLCHILD by writing the West Virginia Folklife Center at FSC, 1200 Locust Avenue, 26554.  The cost is $3.00.

Next year’s issue will focus on the theme of  “nature” and West Virginia. Submissions are encouraged.  

Please feel free to access additional information about West Virginia Folklife Center publications.


Created:  7/23/2002
Last Update:  2/3/09
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