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Tricky Tricksters

They're tricky and they're selfish but then they get their comeuppance in the end, hooray! Children love trickster tales, which often feature a smaller animal who, using cunning and wit, outsmarts the stronger animal who is only thinking of himself. There's something universally appealing about these very wise human tales, which are found in all parts of the world from Ireland, to India, to Africa and the American South. You and your kids are sure to enjoy the antics in these recommended books for children ages 0-9.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

A Tale of Tricky Fox: A New England Trickster

By: Jim Aylesworth, Barbara McClintock
Illustrated by: Barbara McClintock
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The fun begins when Tricky Fox makes a bet with his brother that he can trick a silly human into giving him a pig. "I'll eat my hat if you can," says his brother, and Tricky Fox sets off to win the bet. The endearingly antique pictures add to the merriment, especially when the conniving fox winks at readers, drawing them into his joke.

Borreguita and the Coyote

By: Verna Aardema, Petra Mathers
Illustrated by: Petra Mathers
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Left alone to graze, Borreguita outsmarts the fierce coyote who thinks the small lamb would be a tasty lunch. This tale from Ayutla, Mexico, is retold with sly humor and illustrated with dramatic, full color illustrations.

Iktomi Loses His Eyes: A Plains Indian Story

By: Paul Goble
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Iktomi, the Lakota trickster, is himself tricked into losing his eyes. He then tricks Mouse and Buffalo into giving him one each of their eyes, but seeing the world through their eyes isn't quite what he expected. This tale is tricky, authentic — and very funny!

Jabuti the Tortoise: A Trickster Tale from the Amazon

By: Gerald McDermott
Illustrated by: Gerald McDermott
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Vulture is sick and tired of Jabuti’s trickery. He gets his revenge when he flies the tortoise high in the air, then drops him, breaking his shell. But Jabuti puts himself together and comes out on top – with the help of the birds of the rainforest. How those birds got their colorful plumage is vividly explained in this brilliantly colored and well told tale.

Possum Come A-Knockin'

By: Nancy Laan, George Booth
Illustrated by: George Booth
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Possum comes a-knockin’ at their door, each member of the family takes a turn stopping their daily routines to see who is interrupting them. But the clever offender – a long tailed possum with top hat and vest – stays out of sight. This funny, rhyming, and cumulative tale with a distinct southern lilt is sure to twist tongues and create a smile.

Sure as Sunrise: Tales of Bruh Rabbit and his Walkin' Talkin' Friends

By: Alice McGill, Don Tate
Illustrated by: Don Tate
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Alice McGill retells the tales she heard growing up in North Carolina with the verve and informality of a storyteller. Some are familiar, others are less well known, but all involve Bruh (Brer) Rabbit and his companions from the lore of the southern United States.

The Gingerbread Man

By: Eric Kimmel, Megan Lloyd
Illustrated by: Megan Lloyd, Eric Kimmel
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Run, run, run just as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man! After escaping the kitchen, the Gingerbread Man taunts a number of animals until he is eaten by a wily fox. But don’t worry about this Gingerbread Man, he'll come back when you make your own gingerbread cookies!

The Leprechaun's Gold

By: Pamela Duncan Edwards
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Old Pat is on his way to a contest that will name the finest harpist in all of Ireland. On the way, his ill-spirited companion, Young Tom, begins to scheme for his own victory. But thanks to Old Pat's willingness to come to the aid of a fellow traveler, a mischievous leprechaun intervenes, ensuring that both Pat and Tom are appropriately repaid for their actions.

Walter Wick's Optical Tricks

By: Walter Wick
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can you be tricked into seeing something that’s not really there? Your eyes can be deceived more easily than you think. If you don’t agree, take a hard look at these full color photographs, then read how you were mislead! The creator of this tricky book is also the creator of the popular I Spy series.

What's the Hurry Fox? And Other Animal Tales

By: Zora Neale Hurston
Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Folktales collected in the 1930s have been adapted, retold, and freshly illustrated for contemporary readers. Find out why dogs hate cats, why waves wear whitecaps, and more.This clever collection is ideal for sharing aloud.

Who's In Rabbit's House? A Masai Tale

By: Verna Aardema, Diane Dillon
Illustrated by: Diane Dillon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Rabbit cannot go into her own house for fear of the ferocious-sounding animal inside. Told as a play with masked actors, this cumulative tale gradually unfolds to a surprising and very satisfying conclusion.

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
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