"Once the storytellers were the ancients, who like great skin containers, held the wine of story for their communities. They doled it out, sip by sip: history, mystery, lineage, and law. They were both entertainment and enrichment. They carried wisdom in the mouth, adventure on the tongue," writes folklorist Jane Yolen in this lively and fascinating collection of 75 tales from around the world about gray heroes. In our times, elders are changing our perceptions about aging, retirement, and dying. Yolen has done us all an immense service by bringing together a batch of stories from different cultures where elders "wear their long years well."

The tales are divided into four sections: wisdom, trickery, adventure, and a little bit of love. Here the reader will find accounts of long-lived individuals who fight dragons, rescue those in distress, act courageously, and restore hope in the hearts of others. These gray heroes model for us a new way of being.