First published in 1958, The Tale of the Kind and the Unkind Girls is considered a monumental study in folklore circles. The Folktale in question was originally titled the Spinning-Women by the Spring by Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne. One of the best known tales in the world, it typically concerns two girls, one of whom is kind and is rewarded with kindness and one of whom is unkind and is appropriately punished.
Through a remarkable worldwide search, Warren Roberts found more than nine hundred versions of the tale from nearly every corner of the globe, enabling him to chronicle how individual storytellers altered the story to fit their own particular needs and tastes. In doing so, he has made a major contribution to comparative folklore study, documenting how a story changes as it circulates from land to land. Using the historic-geographic method, Roberts attempts to discover what best represents the archetype of the tale, the place of origin of the tale, and the routes by which it has spread.