The Dotty Series by Emma Warner Reed is a multiple-award winning grade school fantasy series following a girl who discovers ancient magic in her uncle's house. Teleport through chimneys, discover ambivalent faeries, and run from malicious birds along with Dotty in this suspenseful-yet-innocent adventure fantasy. Dotty is like the Secret Garden meets Hogwarts meets Narnia -- Perfect for voracious young readers as well as adults! The Dotty Series would make a great Christmas gift for an 8-year-old.
Boy, has Charlie Cat been busy this year! Charlie and his friend Susie Dog have several appearances this year celebrating their new book, Charlie Cat Takes a Break on Thanksgiving. Books, puppets, songs, games, and crafts--we're having a blast!
Over the years we have searched far and wide for sweet Halloween and fall books. Although we found many great books (listed below), we still felt there was something missing, and so Charlie Cat was born:
Charlie Cat does not like scary monsters and ghosts. Charlie's friend Susie Dog loves to dress up for Halloween. When Susie Dog scares Charlie Cat, Charlie uses his strong voice to tell her STOP. Find out how these two friends get along on Halloween.
Charlie Cat is a rhyming picture book for ages 0-6 Pages: 27
For our Co-op last semester, we were learning about the seven continents and the students are giving presentations of their own choosing. My son decided to focus on folktales from each continent and explore story telling. Here are some of the compilations we found that covered several continents and/or story telling in general. AROUND THE WORLD Tuck-me-in tales: bedtime stories from around the world by MacDonald, Margaret Read. A cute collection of tales great for little children.
How & Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell by Martha Hamilton & Mitch Weiss collects stories from all over the world. Each story is told in a couple of pages, illustrated, and clearly tells what culture it is from, non-fiction facts related to the story, and tips for telling the story. A map near the beginning of the book shows the origin of all the stories. Perfect for elementary students.
Stories in my Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell by Martha Hamilton & Mitch Weiss. I just realized this is the same author team as the one above. Ha! No wonder it's a good book. This one is more advanced, with many more detailed notes about how to give the stories life, including hand gestures, use of voice, and emphasis on certain words. I love how it is laid out in two columns, with a line from the story on the left side of the page and tips for how to tell it on the right. The stories are arranged from easiest to most challenging and then followed up by back matter that goes even further into the art of storytelling and how to foster it.
Omusumi Kororin: Follow this link for a script of a traditional Japanese tale about a man who finds his way into the world of mice, where he is rewarded for being kind. This tale parallels the structure of the European fairytale "Diamonds and Toads" where a good person is rewarded and then a bad person attempts to get the reward but fails. Watch it on youtube here.
Tikki Tikki Tembo / retold by Arlene Mosel. Illustrated by Blair Lent. A funny Chinese legend tells why children have short names; when two boys fall down the well, the boy with the longer name must wait longer to be rescued. The children laughed each time I had to read the silly long name in the book.
Tanuki's gift : a Japanese tale by Tim Myers ; pictures by R.G. Roth. An adorable tale where a priest befriends a badger, then asks the badger for money to pay his way into heaven -- instead, the priest learns that it is the badger's friendship that actually matters to him the most.
The hunter : a Chinese folktale retold by Mary Casanova ; illustrations by Ed Young. A hunter earns the ability to understand animals, under threat that he can never give away the secret. In order to save his village from a flood, he chooses to give away the secret and allow himself to be turned to stone. The villagers are saved but regret making him explain himself.
The gift of the Crocodile: a Cinderella story by Judy Sierra (Author), Reynold Ruffins (Illustrator). A Cinderella tale from the spice islands (Columbus' original destination). This tale also shares aspects of the "Diamonds and Toads" motif where the good sister is rewarded (with a nice clothes) and the bad sister is punished when she tries to copy her (with leech-filled clothing). This was a favorite of all my kids and led us to learn about mangrove forests.
Indian Fairytales by Joseph Jacob, 1892, available online from project gutenberg. The language is a bit stilted or "classic" and assumes a bit of knowledge of Buddism, but the stories are otherwise short and straightforward.
Note that The Jungle Book is set is the Indian jungle.
For our Co-op last semester, we were learning about the seven continents and the students are giving presentations of their own choosing. My son decided to focus on folktales from each continent and explore story telling. For South America he chose Jabuti: A Trickster Tale of The Amazon by Gerald McDermott.
One of the problems I had searching for South American folktales is that my searches popped up results from north american-mexican heritage. A lot of tales from South America have versions that have evolved in Mexico and the USA.
Cendrillon: A Carribean Cinderella. The Carribean borders the North and South American continent. It's considered part of North America, but I like to include this one here as a bridge between the continents.
Moon Rope : a Peruvian folktale (Un lazo a la luna : una leyenda peruana) by Lois Ehlert ; translated into Spanish by Amy Prince. While the illustrations are not my favorite because they are a bit abstract, I love that the book has the Spanish translation on the same page as the English. A story about a fox who climbs a rope to the moon. This was my five-year-old's favorite story.
For our Co-op last semester, we were learning about the seven continents and the students are giving presentations of their own choosing. My son decided to focus on folktales from each continent and explore story telling. For North America he chose Jack Outwits the Giants.
The story of Jumping Mouse: a native American legend by John Steptoe, tells the legend of a mouse who wishes to travel far to a new land. Along the way a magic frog gives him jumping legs, and the mouse in turn gives up bits of his magic to help others, until the frog returns and turns him into an eagle as a reward. This folktale is from the plains area. The book's lengthier text makes a great read for upper elementary.
A Spoon for Every Bite by Joe Hayes ; illustrated by Rebecca Leer. A folktale of roughly Mexican origin in which a poor couple tells a rich man about a man so rich he uses a different spoon for every bite. After the rich man has spent his fortune on spoons, he learns that the 'spoon' in this case is a tortilla.
Little Gold Star: a Cinderella cuento = Estrellita de oro by Joe Hayes. This variation of Cinderella also shares aspects of the European fairytale "Diamonds and Toads" where the good sister gets rewarded (with a star on her forehead) and the bad sisters try to copy her but get punished (with ugly things on their foreheads).
Yonder Mountain : a Cherokee legend / as told by Robert H. Bushyhead ; written by Kay Thorpe Bannon ; foreword by Joseph Bruchac ; illustrated by Kristina Rodanas. Great illustrations and a gentle, important message. Three young men climb a mountain and bring back what they find. All do well, but its the one who gets to the top and sees another tribe's cry for help that is crowned as the next chief. Look for it in your library.
Itse selu : Cherokee harvest festival / by Daniel Pennington ; illustrated by Don Stewart. Pennington shows the Cherokee Harvest Festival as a slice-of-life story, including a page-length fable about a tricky rabbit and grumpy wildcat, similar to Brer Rabbit. Also shows several Cherokee words and how to pronounce them, as well as illustrations of traditional crafts, etc.
Myths, legends, and folktales of America by David Leeming and Jake Page. This one's not a picture book, but an anthology for adults that I ran across in my search. I'm including it because it has an impressively thorough overview of legends, from native American, to African-American, to Anglo-american (like Uncle Sam), and Mexican-American. Provides a good jumping-off point to research these legends.
How animals saved the people : animal tales from the South, retold by J.J. Reneaux ; illustrated by James Ransome. A well-written and illustrated collection of tales with a good mix of indigenous, African-American (a Br'er Rabbit tale!), and other tales that may be lesser known and not found in other children's books. This book includes an Appalachian tale (see the Jack Tales below), though it is not my favorite because it repeatedly talks about the antagonist being a rich guy. Two other tales have illustrations of nude people, FYI, but the illustration are not too detailed, and I still found the stories appropriate for my young children. Includes two ghost stories and a story about having faith in God (in which a character dies).
Stockings of buttermilk : American folktales / edited by Neil Philip ; illustrated by Jacqueline Mair. An entertaining mix of tales.
The tale of Tricky Fox : a New England trickster tale / retold by Jim Aylesworth ; illustrated by Barbara McClintock. This has a modern twist on it where a teacher outwits the fox at the end, which makes it great for a classroom. The fox character is a classic trickster character tracing back to European origins (see Reynard the fox, but maybe don't show the kids). The original version of this tale can be found in What They Say in New England and other American Folklore. Nickel Creek does a great version of The Fox folk song, which dates back to a poem from the 15th century and is appropriate for children. Kumak's fish : a tall tale from the far north by Michael Bania. This adorable, funny tale isn't a traditional folktale, but I included it because of the great illustrations showing Inupiat (Eskimo) people and their life, from an author who's been there. There's another one: Kumak's House by Michael Bania.
The Runaway Tortilla by Eric A. Kimmel ; illustrated by Randy Cecil. A modern re-telling of the gingerbread man set in the desert of Southwestern USA. The book features quite a bit of Spanish, actual desert animals from that region, and the classic ending where the gingerbread man is eaten by a wolf--or in this case, a tortilla eaten by a coyote.
The 'Jack Tales' come from the Appalachian Mountains, evolved from the European Jack and the Bean Stalk. You'll see the similarities, but many also have a distinctly NC flavor to them:
Fearless Jack, adapted and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson and Jack Outwits the Giants, adapted and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson. These were our favorite Jack Tales picture books. They are longer than the Gerald McDermott books and Eric A. Kimmel's Anansi books, so they are great for upper elementary while still sporting big illustrations. Another thing I like about these versions is that some versions emphasize Jack being stupid or slow, but not this one. Paul Brett Johnson really captures the dialect and the hilariously over-the-top story-telling methods of these mountain tales. Read Fearless Jack first, then Jack Outwits the Giants for an extra giggle. In Fearless Jack, Jack keeps accidentally besting the strange beasts plaguing a local town. In Jack Outwits the Giants, the Giants want to eat Jack, so Jack tricks them into believing that he could beat them in a fight. Also check out Bearhide and Crow, another Appalachian tale by Paul Brett Johnson, where Sam and Amos outwit each other into unfair barter trades.
Jack the giant chaser : an Appalachian tale / by Kenn and Joanne Compton ; illustrated by Kenn Compton. The Jack Tales : Folk Tales from the Southern Appalachians Collected and Retold by Richard Chase collects 18 tales in 180+ pages, with a glossary in the back in case you don't know what a piggin is. These are the authentic versions of the tales in the picture books listed above, along with others: proceed with caution, as there are plenty of chopped off heads, and even a witch hunt. Many tales have obvious parallels to European folktales, with Jack as the main character. The tale of Willie Monroe / retold by Alan Schroeder ; illustrated by Andrew Glass. Like Jack plus Paul Bunyan. Willie Monroe thinks he's the strongest man around until he meets a ridiculously strong girl and her granny, who then agree to train him up to win a local contest.
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