Folk tales with a twist

Written/Retold by Eric A. Kimmel,  Illustrated By Katya Krenina

On a cold, wintery morning, Katrusya and her grandfather discover something alarming.  Small birds had been caught in an unexpected snowfall and are in danger of freezing to death.  The young girl and her grandfather pick up as many as they can and bring them inside.  So does the rest of her family and her entire village.  Even the priest from the local church invites the birds to come inside and have a safe refuge from the cold.

The little birds brighten the spirits of all the villagers during an especially long winter until they need to fly away in Spring.  Can the villagers let them go?  What will come of this simple act of kindness?  Perhaps an Easter miracle?

This is a beautiful book about how small actions can create big results and transform even the bleakest situation.  Illustrated by Katya Krenina, a native of the Ukraine, this book is charming and uplifting, especially in Spring or before the Easter holidays.



The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story (Hardcover)

By (author): Eric A. Kimmel, Katya Krenina

Villagers take in a flock of golden birds nearly frozen by an early snow and are rewarded with beautifully decorated eggs the next spring.
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Fiona's Luck (Paperback)

By (author): Teresa Bateman

The greedy Leprechaun King has locked away all the luck in Ireland and the whole country has fallen in to despair. Through clever charades, Fiona outwits the Leprechaun King and restores luck to the land.

Luminous illustrations add to the magic and wonder of this original folktale.
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Written by Teresa Bateman

Illustrated By Kelly Murphy

What would you do if suddenly all the luck in the world disappeared?

This is an enchanted and enchanting story about the wee folk of Ireland and one clever heroine named Fiona. The book tells the tale of a Leprechaun king who decides to hide all the luck in the world away from the humans.  The results are terrible as cows will not give milk, chickens won’t lay eggs and potatoes won’t grow in the fields.  And people simply don’t know what to do.  All except clever Fiona.

How can a human outwit a Leprechaun king and make things right? Pick up this charming book and find out how a good heart and a clever mind can sometimes change even the more dire situations.

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Don Pedro wants to care the best radish sculpture for the Nigh of the Radishes. One radish won't cooperate. Written in a style reminicent of the Gingerbread Man. Based on the annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bilingual edition in English and Spanish.
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Written by Janice Levy

Have you heard about the Christmas custom in Oaxaca, Mexico called The Night of The Radish (El Noche de Los Rabanos)? As part of the special festivities, people carve large radishes into elaborate scenes – most of which have a Christmas or Nativity theme.  And some are amazing works of art.

In this story, one radish decides that she does not want to become part of this festival and runs away.  A huge chase ensues and a cast of characters chase the radish in a way that resembles the story of the gingerbread man.

Funny, cute and a nice way to talk about how holiday customs differ from place to place, the Runaway Radish is a great book to add a touch of mirth to the holiday season!

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Written By John Steptoe

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a Cinderella tale beautifully in Zimbabwe.  Written by John Steptoe, the story was inspired by a folktale of that region published in the late 1800’s and the names of the characters are from the Shona language of Zimbabwe.

The book tells the tale of a village elder and his two daughters whose personalities are as different as night and day. When a King from a nearby town declared his intention to find a wife, the real action of the story begins.  As both girls travel to the main city to meet the King, they encounter obstacles that turn out to be tests of character.  How both girls handle the situations determine who is seen as fit to marry the King.  And there’s another plot twist that will surprise you, but you’ll have to pick up the book to find out what it is.

Although the “Cinderlla story” is well known, this book is so well written and lushly illustrated that you may find yourself lost in the tale or rereading it time and time again.  It’s just that good.




The tale of Mufaro's two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls andof course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen.
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Retold/Adapted By Jewell Reinhart Coburn

Illustrated By Connie McLennan

Can you imagine a tale of “Cinderella” set in rural Mexico?  This is exactly what you’ll find in the book, Domotila, where the story takes places in the region of Hidalgo, Mexico, complete with adobe houses, colorful villages and young girl so talented she can turn cactus into a delicious treat called nopales.  And, in everything she does, she follows her mother’s wonderful advice: “Do every task with care and always add a generous dash of love!”.

As you probably guessed, the young girl is named Domitila and her family falls upon hard times.  She is forced to travel to the city to cook and work for the governor’s family and there she encounters the “prince”.  Through many twists and turns, the story leads to a satisfying ending where the value of a kind and caring person is seen as real talent and beauty.

Although there’s something magical about any Cinderalla tale – this one truly shines in terms of cultural authenticity and an engaging story. This is a satisfying book to read together with children as well as a great pick for bilingual families or those wishing to learn a bit more Spanish.

And there’s even a recipe for cactus nopales – cook it, if you dare!




Domitila is not only "sweeter than a cactus bloom in early spring," she is also a talented cook and an amazing leather artist. most of the classical elements of a Cinderella story can be found in Domitila. A gentle weaving of her mother's nurturing with strong family traditions is the secret ingredient for Domitila to rise above hardship to eventually become the Governor's bride. Moreover, with a firm belief in simplicity and realism, Domitila makes a lasting impression as a triumphant Cinderella in her humility, service, and unassuming modesty.

Unlike most ivory tower Cinderellas, the only transformation in this story is Timoteo's—Domitila's suitor—as we watch him mature from an arrogant politician's son to a compassionate family man. There is no glass slipper to fight over, and no fairy godmother to save the day. All Domitila has are her innate qualities and her family legacy. Finally, the readers are invited to get to know Cinderella for who she is, unlike the typical fantasy character!

With love and care in every stroke, McLennan captured on canvas the warmth of relationships, the fondness for color and texture, and the versatile patterns characteristic of the Mexican people. Readers will soon fall in love with the shimmering light of the desert landscape and this well-told story of Cinderella-with-a-twist.

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Apr
05

Old Turtle

Written by Douglas Wood, Illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee

Along time ago, when everything on Earth could speak, there was a discussion.  The discussion turned to an argument.  It seemed that all things wanted to perceive God as being very much like themselves.  Can you imagine what came of this?

If you guessed that it created a state of disharmony – you would be right.  But, luckily, the wise Old Turtle stepped in and helped everyone understand how to find God in all things and restore peace.

But the story does not end there.  Just as peace is restored, Old Turtle explains that another type of creature will come to live on the earth – humans.  And they may have to learn the same lesson themselves.  Will they get this important lesson right or struggle with the concept as the animals, plants, trees and rocks all did?

This gentle parable, beautifully illustrated with watercolors by Cheng-Khee Chee, is a moving story for kids and adults alike.  And since it is so cleverly written, it can be read and appreciated by people of any religion as a way to understand the “allness” and the “oneness” of God.



Old Turtle (Hardcover)

By (author): Douglas Wood

Wood's celebrated, bestselling fable of ecology and spirituality, reissued in March 2007 with a beautiful new jacket design.

Long ago, the animals, rocks, waters, and trees of the earth began an argument about God. Is He a wind who is never still? Is He a rock that never moves? Is He high above or here among us?

Venerable Old Turtle quitely answered: God is all of these things.

In 1992, Old Turtle burst upon the publishing world as a uniquely satisfying fable about ecology, peace, and the interconnectedness of all beigns. Few books can match the understated, universal power of its hopeful message. The beautiful repackaging Scholastic is releasing in March 2007 makes it the perfect gift book.
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Retold/Written By Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Daniel San Souci

This is a beautiful Cinderella story, retold from an Ojibwa legend and set in the woodlands of the Northern Central United States.  In this story readers meet a small girl who is the youngest daughter of a warrior whose wife has died.  While the father is away, her older sisters are cruel and force her to do all their work.  Since she does all the family’s cooking over a wood fire, they tease her and call her “Sootface”.

One day the village’s daily life is interrupted by a remarkable announcement.  A nearby young medicine man I looking for a bride.   Handsome and powerful, this young warrior can even make himself invisible.  Only the woman who can see him and can answer a riddle about his bow and arrows will prove she is pure in heart and can share his life.  The rest of the story unfolds perfectly, accompanied by lovely illustrations with an eye to authentically portraying the details of clothing, shelter and other aspects of Ojibwa life.

A wonderful tale of how remaining true to one’s self eventually becomes it’s own meaningful reward.



Sootface (Paperback)

By (author): Robert D. San Souci

Once, an Ojibwa man whose wife had died raised three daughters alone. The two older girls were lazy and bad-tempered, and made their youngest sister do all the work. When the flames from the cooking fire singed her hair or burned her skin, they laughed and called her Sootface.



While she worked, Sootface dreamed that one day she would find a husband. Then a mighty warrior with the power to make himself invisible decides to marry. Only a woman with a kind and honest heart could see him, and be his bride.



Though her sisters ridicule her, Sootface sets off to try her luck, never looking back. Her courage and good nature bring her the husband she has longed for.
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Retold/Written and Illustrated by Ed Young

It’s interesting how some story themes find their way all around the world.

Lon Po Po is very much like the story known as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. In this story, a loving mom must leave her three smart and clever daughters – Shang, Tao, and Paotze – to visit their grandmother on her birthday.  She gives them instructions on how to be safe, but the wolf nearby is clever.

He knocks at the door and declares that he is Grandma.  Then he blows the candle out and tries to find other ways to get close enough to harm the girls.  But the three sisters are not fooled – they outwit the wolf at every turn with brilliant and clever moves – overcoming evil with a sharp mind and a good heart.

Although the cover of the book and some illustrations can appear a bit scary for youngest readers, the book is uplifting and has a happy ending.  It’s great to see young girls in strong roles – ready, willing and able to overcome evil with the power of their mind and their heart.




WINNER OF THE RANDOLPH CALDECOTT MEDAL, AWARDED TO THE ARTIST OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR

"(Young's) command of page composition and his sensitive use of color give the book a visual force that matches the strength of the story and stands as one of the illustrator's best efforts." --Booklist

"Absolutely splendid." -- Kirkus Reviews. "An extraordinary and powerful book." -- Publisher's Weekly

The now-classic Chinese retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and one of the most celebrated picture books of our time.
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Written and Illustrated By Patricia Polacco

Set in busy Union City, a kindly and portly janitor at an elementary school befriends a young boy who is being teased for being overweight.  Young Welcome Comfort is also a foster child and finally finds a special place in the hearts of Mr. Hamp and his wife who live next door to the school.  But something odd happens every Christmas as his two loving friends go away. And then there was that vivid Christmas Dream.  Telling any more about the plot will surely give away this lovely holiday story that shares a sense of kindness and compassion that are truly worthy of Christmas.

This is my favorite “Santa Claus” book because it tells such an endearing story and focuses less on the aspect of material gift-giving and more on the aspect of a St. Nick’s love and care for children. Just beautiful!



Welcome Comfort (Paperback)

By (author): Patricia Polacco

Santa! He's not even real!

It's not easy being Welcome Comfort-a foster child always moving from home to home and getting picked on by the kids at school. Even Christmas, the most wondrous time of the year, isn't so wondrous for Welcome, since he has no family, no presents, and no Santa Claus. But when Welcome meets Mr. Hamp, the school custodian, he finally finds a friend. And when Christmas comes around, Welcome is taken on an extraordinary adventure that changes his life forever.

"Sentimental but appealing, the story of a special inheritance is illustrated with lively pictures wrapped up in cheerful Christmas colors."
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Written By and Illustrated by Ivan Gantschev, Translation by J. Allison James

Bulgarian born author and artist, Ivan Gantshev weaves a wonderful winter tale about a rabbit and a bear.  The story takes place on Christmas Eve as two hunters make their way into the forest and come upon a little bunny.  Fleeing the hunters, she takes refuge in a cave and awakens a bear who is having the most marvelous dream.  In her dream, the little bear is in a far-off country and she sees a couple looking for shelter so their baby can be born.  The dream unfolds a breath-taking description of the birth of Christ and the bear is in awe.  The rabbit helps to explain Christmas and a nearby owl shares a prophesy that the baby from the dream will help protect the poor and the weak.

Does the rabbit remain safe and secure on Christmas Eve?  What will the hungry bear do before she settles down for the rest of her winter sleep?  Check out this book and be transported into the quiet setting of a wintery woods where miracles create the most beautiful and inspiring of stories.




Award-winning illustrator Ivan Gantschev has a special genius for snow-filled settings as fans of his feisty Snow Leopards already know. In this deep winter tale, Rabbit is running to avoid some Christmas Day hunters when he falls into a snow covered cave--right on top of a hibernating bear! Roused from hibernation, Bear tells Rabbit about a strange dream of a woman giving birth on a starlit desert night surrounded by animals. Rabbit realizes that Bear has had a Christmas dream. Rabbit tells his new friend about the birth of Jesus on that night long ago. Perfect for Christmas sharing, this story shows the birth of Jesus from a truly unique perspective. Gantschev's warm watercolors give a feeling of coziness and brightness that is sure to appeal to parents and children alike.
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Written by Jean Richardson, Illustrated By Alice Englander

Set in a medieval court, this book creates a beautiful story around the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”.  The book centers around a little page named Stephen during the time of the Feast of Stephen, the second day of Christmas (December 26th).  The young page is smaller then the others and often teased, so he wonders why he’s being called before the king.  Instead of a scolding, the King asks him to join him on a Christmas trek through the blinding snow to help one of his poorest subjects who lives deep in the woods.

As you might guess, little Stephen sets out on this journey cold, angry and resentful to miss the Christmas festivities at the castle.  However, he returns delighted, happy and transformed for having experienced the real meaning of Christmas love and charity.  A beautiful book for children and adults, especially for reading aloud!



Stephen's Feast (Hardcover)

By (author): Jean Richardson

Stephen, the youngest page at the court of King Wenceslas, is asked to accompany his monarch on a mission of good will to a poor peasant.
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Nov
11

Rainbow Crow

Retold By Nancy Van Laan
Illustrations by Beatriz Vidal

There are many wonderful Native American stories of how the world began and how things we know got to be that way.  This is the legend of the courageous crow, as retold from Lenape (Leni Lenape) folk legends.  The books begins as all the woodland creatures find themselves engulfed in an enormous snowstorm.  Someone must step forward and help.  They must fly to the sun and bring back fire.  Who will take on this daunting task and what will happen to them in their quest?

This book is beautiful, exciting and a wonderful lesson about how courage and service to those you love can truly save the day!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS BOOK

Have you ever done something that required great courage?  What was it?

Was Crow a hero?  Why?

Do you think Crow was afraid when he set out on his journey?  If so, why did he continue?

If you were one of the other woodland creatures, could you come up with another way to save your family and friends?  Tell the story or write your own legend about it.

Suggested Reading Level – 4 and up (or preschool and up)



Rainbow Crow (Dragonfly Books) (Paperback)

By (author): Nancy Van Laan

Illus. in full color. This story of how the Rainbow Crow lost his sweet voice and brilliant colors by bringing the gift of fire to the other woodland animals is "a Native American legend that will be a fine read-aloud because of the smooth text and songs with repetitive chants. The illustrations, done in a primitive style, create a true sense of the Pennsylvania Lenape Indians and their winters."--School Library Journal.  
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Written by John Steptoe
This is a beautiful, Cinderella–style tale set in a rural village Africa.  A respected elder in the tribe has two beautiful daughters – one with a kind and loving personality and the other …not so much so.   And there is a handsome prince seeking a bride.  The story unfolds with glorious illustrations and a timeless message about being who you are and how goodness finds a gentle way to prevail. An exciting story and a beautiful book!
Reading Level: Preschool – Grade 3



With beautiful illustrations, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters Big Book, a Caldecott Honor picture book, is perfect for introducing children to the Cinderella fairytale as well as the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe. This oversize edition (14 3/4 by 17 5/8 inches) makes it easy to share the book in a library or classroom.

Mufaro has two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but Manyara is selfish and spoiled. When the king decides to choose a bride from among "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land," both Mufaro's girls travel to the capital city. But only one can be chosen to marry the king.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

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Written by Arlene Laverde
What would happen if the Three Little Pigs story was set in the cold climate of Alaska?  Instead of a wolf, the little piggies are trying to outwit a grizzley bear as they go about their life in the land if the midnight sun.  This is a fun way to share a classic story with a new twist.
Reading Level: Preschool – Grade 3


Alaska's Three Pigs (PAWS IV) (Paperback)

By (author): Arlene Laverde

The newest addition to the Paws IV line of Alaska children's books features the classic story of those irresistible little pigs--retold Alaskan-style, as the pigs camp, fish, ski, and build homes on the Last Frontier! This delightful take on the original is full of Alaska details and is sure to charm readers of all ages.
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Written  by Luna Rising Editors
The Three Little Pigs story is retold here in true southwest style.  Only here the pigs are hairy little javelinas (relatives to pigs).  Whimsical, comical illustrations plus a nice blend of Native American and Southwestern folklore make this a great twist on an old classic story.
Reading Level:Grades 2 – 4
Spanish Version
  
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