Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Plesant DeSpain  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Children;

Born: 1943 in Denver, Colorado

-- Website --
-- Plesant DeSpain on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Plesant recieved a BS and MS from Southern Illinois University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Pleasant DeSpain has taught speech, literature, and drama at university and in public schools, has written, produced, and hosted an award-winning television program on KING-TV in Seattle, and was officially proclaimed "Seattle's Resident Storyteller" by the mayor.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Eleven Nature Tales: A Multicultural Journey (World Storytelling)
ISBN: 0874834589

August House. 2005

A multicultural journey celebrating Earth's oldest legends and lore.

Folktales are as old as mankind, yet as new as each sunrise. They were shaped in a time when our ancestors knew that their daily welfare depended on maintaining a balance in nature. Today the survival of the planet depends on that same balance, and Pleasant DeSpain believes "we can count on the tales of old to provide ecological explanations, lessons, warnings, and wonders."

DeSpain provides eleven ancient stories that address the natural elements. The opening story, "All Things Are Connected," comes from Zaire and handily illustrates the balance of nature. The ending story, "Enough Is Enough," is a native Quinault tale explaining the formation of the Puget Sound.

In between are folktales from Fiji, Central Asia, Australia, China, Portugal, and the Algonquin, Cherokee, and Tlingit native people, illustrated in scratchboard by Joe Shlichta. These ancient tales of ancestors teach readers the importance of citizenship, resourcefulness and respect.

One reviewer praised Pleasant DeSpain's skill, saying that he "knows how to convert the oral versions to written versions which are suited for children as well as adults of all ages."

Sweet Land of Story
ISBN: 087483600X

August House. 2005

NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

This unique collection of American stories from the frozen tundra of Alaska to the lush green hills of Virginia from the sweltering bayous of Louisiana to the windswept prairies of South Dakota is told in DeSpain's signature gentle style. Every reader will find something of interest - the stories range from practical tales of wisdom such as “Pulling the Rope” to silly and scary ones such as “The Haint that Roared” and “The Big, Smelly, Hairy Toe.”

The stories' represent not only the geographic diversity of the United States but also offer a portrait of our nation's character, values, beliefs, and customs that differ from region to region yet retain a fundamental sense of shared community. These American folktales will teach readers the importance of fairness, responsibility and trustworthiness.

Tales of Tricksters (Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874836441

August House. 2006

Nine short traditional and very entertaining folktales about tricksters, featuring selections from around the world.

Trickster is a marvelous, mischievous, and energetic character found in various disguises in folktales from all around the world. Tricksters do things that are both foolish and wise, often at the same time. Best of all, a trickster's adventures can inspire us to use our own cleverness to outsmart the bullies of the world while creating some fun along the way.

The nine tricksters in this volume come from all points of the globe, including: Persia ("The Smuggler"), India ("The Alligator and the Jackal"), Poland ("The Court Jester"), and France ("Reynard and the Fisherman").

Tales of Heroes (The Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874836662

August House. 2005

Each of these classic stories shares an inspiring message of courage and perseverance.

What does it take to be a hero? Massive strength? Incredible height Infinite power? Not necessarily. Often, it's quick wit, a courageous heart, or unselfishness that evokes the hero inside of us. Even when we are simply reading about the valiant aacts in these stories, we can feel our own innder hero rising to the occasion, echoing that need we all have to be better human beings.

Nine inspiring folktales about heroes and their heroric feats, including Switzerland ("William Tell"), Japan ("Lord Bag of Rice"), South America ("Josesito the Brave"), and Rumania ("Stan Bolovan and the Dragon") and other parts of the world.

Tales of Insects (The Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874836689

August House. 2005

From the Books of Nine Lives series by award-winning author, Pleasant DeSpain.

Insects have always been a part of the human existence. Whether they've annoyed us with buzzing, bites, or stings, or fascinated us with their complexities, we have noticed them enough to give them personalities and histories. These tales make us aware that insects exist for a purpose. Because these stories humanize insects, they can also show us our own foibles and strengths.

Tales of tricksters and heroes, teachers and fools, come from countries all over the world, including: West Africa ("Why Ants Carry Heavy Loads"), Fiji ("Butterfly's Bet"), Mexico ("Grasshopper's Army"), and Jamaica ("Firefly Lights the Way").

Pleasant DeSpain is the author of numerous collections of multicultural stories, including the highly regarded Thirty-Three Multicultural Tales to Tell, Sweet Land of Story, and The Emerald Lizard. He has traveled all over the United States and the world, collecting stories to share with children and adults.

Tales of Holidays (The Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874836670

August House. 2005

These nine short folktales feature stories about traditional holidays celebrated from Czechoslovakia, Russia, France, the United States, and other parts of the world.

Holy days, or holidays, are celebrated by cultures from around the globe. These are times when people experience the energy and spirit that comes when a day is lifted out of commonplace. Sometimes that spirit is one of love and goodwill other times it's a sense of renewal or even giddy fear.

Holidays are unique because we find unexpected occurrences in everyday routine. Here are nine holiday stories, with descriptions of the days they celebrate, including: New Year's Day ("The Twelve Months"), Halloween ("Whooooo"), Hannukah ("Babushka"), and Christmas ("Christina's Christmas Garden").

Tales of Enchantment (Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874837111

August House. 2005

A collection of nine traditional tales about leprechauns, dwarfs, shape shifters and other enchanted creatures from various countries.

This is the seventh installation of Pleasant DeSpain's "Book of Nine Lives" series. From the earliest times of storytelling, magic has been a part of the most thrilling of tales―when miracles transport heroes and transform the outcome of the story itself. In fact, the power of magic is at work whenever a story is told: the magician is the teller of the tale, allowing story, teller, and listener to become one.

Leprechauns, dwarfs, shape-shifters, and the power of dreams―you'll meet them all, and more in these nine tales, including: "The Seven Stars" (Cherokee Nation), "Red Cap and the Miser" (Ireland), "The Birds of All the World" (Spain), and "The Silver Bell" (Denmark).

Tales of Cats (Books of Nine Lives)
ISBN: 0874837138

August House. 2005

"Anyone, child or adult, who has an interest in folklore will find these stories charming." -Top of Texas Reviews

A book for all cat-lovers! Worshipped in some cultures, feared in others, loved as pets worldwide, cats are seen as possessing special power―athletic, supernatural, or intellectual. The nine tales included her show cats in all their glory. The cats in these stories are kind, cruel, independent, lovable―and always clever.

These nine stories come from all points of the globe, including Sri Lanka ("The Magnificent Cat"), East Africa ("Why Cats Live with Women"), Italy ("The House of Cats"), and Tibet ("The Holy Cat"). These cat tales will teach readers the importance of caring, fairness and resourcefulness.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)