Wednesday, February 2, 2011


This week in my children's literature class, we are studying folklore...yay!  I would say the majority of what I read and have read since I myself was a child are fantasy and folklore themed books.  They are just so, well,  magical, and they are the only books that really seem to transport me out of my own reality into a fabulous imaginary one where there are princesses and trolls and gnomes and such.  But, many authors and marketers attempt to label books folklore that don't really make the cut.  They are just big liars.  One good way to know if something is genuine folklore is if somewhere on the cover or on the title page in the book it says, "retold by" rather than just "by".  For example, on the cover of Jack and the Beanstalk below, you can see that it says, "retold  and illustrated by Stephen Kellog."  That is what you should look for, although it can still be confusing.  Like on the Rapunzel cover below.  It only says "Paul O. Zelinsky" and nothing else.  But if you were to look inside the book, you would see it says, "retold by".  So no worries, I'm not showing you "fake" folklore :)

I thought I would share the books I have chosen to read and annotate, as they are all really good and would be great to reread yourself or read aloud to any children you might happen to know.

1. Rapunzel, retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Rapunzel (Picture Puffin Books)
This is a classic story, and is illustrated beautifully.  Plus, with the new Disney movie out (Tangled), interest in Rapunzel is soaring!  It would be nice to demonstrate where those geniuses at Disney got the idea for the movie...

2.  Jack and the Beanstalk, retold and illustrated by Stephen Kellog
Jack and the Beanstalk
This is also a classic.  Yet I hadn't even remembered all of the aspects of the story, so I was especially glad to reread this one.  Any story with a ogre, golden eggs, and magical kingdom in the sky is destined to be a good one.

3.  Little Red Riding Hood, retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Little Red Riding Hood
I think we all know this story from birth.  But it is still so fun to read aloud, and this version is full of beautiful, detailed illustrations.

4.  Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Northwest, retold and illustrated by Gerald McDermott
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest
This is a great retelling of the Native American legend describing the birth of the sun.  It is nice to incorporate Alaskan stories into any literature curriculum so that kids can learn more about the cultures around them.

5.  The Sleeping Lady, retold by Ann Dixon
Sleeping Lady (Anniversary)
This is a great story and has unique and original illustrations.  I have always loved this Alaskan folktale, as I look at Mount Susistna, or Sleeping Lady, nearly everyday (it is across the inlet from my house and visible from nearly everywhere in Anchorage).

These are just a few really good examples of beautifully illustrated folklore.  I hope you enjoy, and be sure to comment if you have any favorites you think I should read.

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