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World Folktales

Long before there was television, movies, computers, or even books, people told stories to one another. These folktales delighted, informed, inspired, and educated. When people heard a tale that they liked or that particularly moved them, they made it their own by changing where it took place or how it was told. Today we are lucky to have books and other ways to share a world of stories. From Aesop's fables to Cinderella, you are sure to recognize familiar tales in different settings.

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

Andy and the Lion

By: James Daugherty
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Andy helps an escaped circus lion by removing a thorn from his paw. This simple act of kindness – and bravery – done by a boy on his way to school is rewarded by friendship and loyalty. Limited color and strong line combine with lively language in this very American version of an old fable attributed to Aesop.

Ashpet: An Appalachian Tale

By: Joanne Compton, Kenn Compton
Illustrated by: Kenn Compton
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ashpet is “hired out” and makes her employers jealous because of her loveliness. But she gets help from old granny to attend the church social and finds a way to get the attention of the doctor’s son – a fine young man. This distinctive Appalachian version of Cinderella creates its unique setting in jaunty language and comic illustrations of a plucky, bright heroine.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

By: Verna Aardema, Beatriz Vidal
Illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The tale of herdsman Ki-pat is set on a dry African plain and is told in the familiar cadence of “The House that Jack Built”. Animals are introduced, tension builds and the resolution pours forth as the rhyme builds. Stylized illustrations create place and mood in this engaging verse.

Caps for Sale

By: Esphyr Slobodkina
Illustrated by: Esphyr Slobodkina
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A traveling peddler takes a nap under a tree and wakes up to find his hats on the heads of monkeys on the branches overhead. How he retrieves his hats is real monkey business in this colorful, repetitious classic.

Hatseller and the Monkeys

By: Baba Diakite
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

BaMusa takes a break from selling his hats – only to have them stolen by mischievous monkeys. Told in rhythmic language sprinkled with words from Mali, BaMusa’s work to retrieve his hats is illustrated with strong line and bold form.

Jack Tales

By: Richard Chase
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Read about Jack and the famous beanstalk, how Jack stopped folk from dying, and more – all with a distinctive Appalachian flair. This collection is meant to be shared aloud, sure to delight listeners (and readers) of all ages.

Lon Po Po

By: Ed Young
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Striking illustrations highlight the drama of this Chinese version of Red Riding Hood. Instead of one girl, three sisters confront and ultimately confound the fearsome, hungry wolf who pretends to be the girls’ grandmother.

Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia

By: Sally Pomme
Illustrated by: Sophie Herxheimer
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Where do you find needles? All over the world, of course! Readers will recognize many things in these stories from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian countries where stories, riddles, and more are told at mealtimes to feed the soul as well as the body. As with many folktales, readers recognize what they share with people in another part of the world while celebrating what makes them unique.

The Rough-Face Girl

By: Rafe Martin
Illustrated by: David Shannon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When her older sisters try to convince the Invisible Being's sister that they can see him, they are rebuffed. Only the youngest, whose face and hair is badly scarred from feeding the fires, can answer his questions correctly and see him everywhere. Sophisticated and hauntingly illustrated, experienced readers will see similarities between this Algonquin tale and its familiar European counterpart, "Cinderella".

Ugly

By: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrated by: Lita Judge
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Named "Ugly" by the other ducks but loved by his mother, the big, gawky, and awkward bird has a tough go of it until he finds his real identity as a swan. This novelization of Hans Christian Andersen's now classic tale of "the Ugly Duckling" is richly told with details of Tasmania and other parts of Australia.

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