Random (but not really)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Picture Books: Folklore

What is all this about books for kids?

Since elementary school I have had a love for folktales and folklore. So when I’m looking for new books, I tend to seek out tales based on folktales.


Verna Aardema: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears (1975)

The mosquito said, “I saw a farmer digging yams that were almost as big as I am”

“What’s a mosquito compared to a yam?” snapped the iguana grumpily. “I would rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense!” Then he stuck two sticks in his ears and went off, mek, mek, mek, mek, through the reeds.

Tomie dePaola: Strega Nona (1975)

In a town in Calabria, a long time ago, there lived an old lady everyone called Strega Nona, which meant “Grandma Witch.”

Although all the people in town talked about her in whispers, they all went to see her if they had troubles.

The Clown of God (1978)

Arthur A. Levine : The Boy Who Drew Cats

In fifth grade this story was in my reading book. There weren’t any pictures, but the story stuck in my mind, and eventually I decided to try and find the story. First, there are several versions of this story. The one I first read was the more gruesome of the tales.

Avoid large places at night–keep to small!

Paul Goble: The Girl Who Loved Horses

Rachel Isadora: The Princess and the Pea

Gerald McDermott: Anansi the Spider

One year I received a book that was a collection of folktales from around the world (that book will come up later) and some of my favorite tales were Anansi the Spider tales.

It’s one of the reason I was so delighted by Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods, because of Aunt Nancy.

Rafe Martin: Rough Faced Girl

Arlene Mosel: Tikki Tikki Tembo (1968)

Once upon a time, a long time ago, it was the custom in China to give firstborn sons great, long, important names. Second sons were given only little, short names.

In a small village there lived a mother with two sons. The second son was called Chang, which means “little or nothing”. But the first son was called Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip pen pembo, which means “the most wonderful boy in the whole world”.

Esphyr Slobodkina: Caps for Sale (1940)

I don’t actually remember owning this book as a kid, but I clearly remember reading it.

The monkeys, of course, stuck in my memory.

Margot Zemach: It Could Always Be Worse (1976)

This is another book that I don’t think I owned as a kid, but I definitely remember reading and loving it.

Once upon a time in a small village a poor unfortunate man lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children in a little one-room hut.

Click through on any of the title (or book covers) to see the books on Amazon. (And if you buy, I get a few parts of pennies to build up towards a book for me!)

If you are interested in other books on folk and fairy tales, I have a page for them, separated by region of origin.

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