Books by Theme
Long ago, storytellers used words and pictures to share tales within a community. Visit some of these communities to meet familiar or fresh characters. You may find that these stories are as inventive and relevant today as when they were first heard.
Alone in the Forest
Musa ventures out alone for the first time to collect firewood, where a loud noise and the dark forest frighten him. A squirrel and a cow calm the panicky boy who returns home safely without any wood — but with a good story to tell. Highly stylized folk art effectively conveys Musa's emotions in a fast-paced story and introducing a tradition of central India.
Busy-Busy Little Chick
Little Chick is not distracted like his mother, Mama Nsoso. He only chases tasty treats after their ilome, a warm new home of grass and mud, for his family is complete. This lively telling based on a fable told by Nkundo people of Central Africa is illustrated with swirling, animated illustrations, complementing the alliterative, onomatopoeic language.
Nelly Has Her Say
When Nelly May takes a job as housekeeper for Lord Ignasius Pinkwinkle, she must learn a new vocabulary. Lord Pinkwinkle becomes "Most Excellent of All Masters," his bed a "restful slumberific" and so on — until she must put it all together to save the Master and his home. Jauntily illustrated, a fresh version of an old English tale is sure to engage children.
Ol' Clip-Clop: A Ghost Story
In 1741, mean-hearted John Leep set out to evict a tenant on Friday, October 13th on a cold and very dark evening. As Leep clip-clops to the widow's house on his horse, hoof beats are matched by an unseen rider to and from the house. Dark, dramatic illustrations enhance the truly spooky story with an unexpected ending sure to make readers or listeners jump.
Prairie Chicken Little
A prairie chicken named Mary McBlinken, "heard a rumbling and a grumbling and a tumbling" fearing that "a stampede's a comin'!" Others join her to alert Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan to the impending danger. Almost sidetracked by a tricky coyote, Stan and Dan save the day and stop the rumbling of Mary's tummy. A take-off of "Chicken Little" is made even more humorous by rib-tickling illustrations.
Princess Tales: Once Upon a Time in Rhyme with Seek-and-Find Pictures
Ten princess tales are retold in verse accompanied by highly detailed illustrations that encourage close examination. The lush illustrations place princesses in unique settings, affirming their universal appeal. "The Princess and the Frog", for example, is set in China; the princess whose sleep is disturbed by a single pea under many mattresses appears in an African county.
The Crocodile and the Scorpion
Two friendless creatures with "brains no bigger than a pebble" vow not to hurt the other. But when the crocodile takes the scorpion to the other side of the river, there is little doubt that they both wind up at the bottom of the "big, brilliant blue river." A brief telling of a little-known fable combines with abstract, angular and brilliantly colored illustrations for a memorable tale.
The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf
Two of three pigs, paid for their work by the Florida-bound farmer, enjoy chips and "sody-pop" more than a sturdy home. Only one is smart enough to grow healthy food and with her pay build a brick house with a pool. This funny, nonviolent riff on a familiar tale makes a gentle comment about healthy food and hygiene and its impact on huffing and puffing!
The Tortoise and the Hare
The familiar fable of competition between a speedy, arrogant hare and a plodding, perseverant tortoise is retold in dramatic, highly detailed illustrations by the artist of the Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse. Here, too, few words are needed to reveal the setting and different personalities of the main characters and the animals who watch the race, in this altogether handsome telling.
Whiskers, Tails and Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico
What do a cricket, a turtle, an opossum, a flea, and a frog have in common? Each are featured in a story that comes from one of the indigenous people that live in Mexico. Fluid retellings combine with information about the natives from whose culture the tales were drawn. A glossary and where to go for additional information and sources are included in this attractively illustrated book.
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