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 Australia he chose to make a little booklet of "Crow Steals Fire."
This continent was the most difficult to find folktales from. Even the collections of folktales from around the world often exclude Australia and sometimes the islands in Oceania are grouped together with Asia or South America instead of Australia (did you know Easter Island is part of Oceania??). The folktales exist, of course, but picture books and collections seem to be harder to come upon, especially if you want a copy in good condition, or if you're being picky like I was and really, really wanted a trickster tale. Wikipedia assures me that Crow is a trickster god of Australia folklore, so why are there no picture books of him? Get on that, picture book writers!!!
When the world was young : creation and pourquois tales / retold by Margaret Mayo ; illustrated by Louise Brierley. A Polynesian tale featuring Maui (see more below), and an Australian tale help make this collection unique. This was an amazing find, considering all the trouble we had finding tales from Oceania!
The Turtle and the Island: A Folktale from Papua New Guinea
Rainbow Bird: An Aboriginal Folk Tale from Northern Australia
Why Koala has a Stumpy Tale
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom is more like a modern folktale, but it's a great picture book and follows the structure of folktales as a boy tricks a snake into eating too much so that it will have to spit him out.
And then, of course, there's the Hawaiian/Polynesian hero, Maui, much like in the Disney movie Moana. Although Hawaii is politically part of the USA which is in the North American continent, Hawaii is culturally part of the Polynesian islands, which are often lumped in with Australia as "Oceania," and sometimes lumped in with Asia in folktale collections.
Pele and the Rivers of Fire is a picture book that tells the story of the volcano goddess in the movie and has great reviews.
How Maui Slowed the Sun
Maui and the Secret of Fire
Hina and the Sea of Stars
For older kids, Hawaiian Myths of Earth, Sea, and Sky looks good. Here is a brief summary of a few Hawaiian legends. You can also find Legends of Maui on the gutenberg project, which means its free, but it is also a bit dry and written for adults.
We had a little luck finding a few videos on youtubes, too:
The Blue Wren
Why Koala Has a Stumpy Tale
How Kangaroo Got Its Pouch
Tiddalick the Frog
Pele Searches for a Home
Why Maui Snared the Sun
Menehune and the Birds
Stay tuned for South America! Join my Reader's Club to keep up with posts like these and other content.