The Cow on the Roof

TCotR cover

Written by: Eric Maddern

Illustrated by: Paul Hess

Published in 2006

Genre: Picture Book, Traditional Literature

Grade Level: K-3

Summary: Based on a well-known European folktale, The Cow on the Roof is a story about a farmer (Shon) and his wife (Sian). One evening, after a long and hard day of working, Shon comes home and starts complaining that he does all of the hard work around the farm. Sian suggests that they switch places the next day, and Shon readily agrees thinking that he will have an easy day of rest and relaxation. The next day, Shon finds out that he was very wrong in thinking that his wife does all of the easy jobs, as anything and everything proceeds to go wrong. In the end, Shon is happy to go back to his normal work in the fields.

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Snail Girl Brings Water: A Navajo Story

SG cover

Retold by: Geri Keams

Illustrated by: Richard Ziehler-Martin

Published in 1998

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book

Grade Level: 2-5

Summary: Snail Girl Brings Water is a retelling of a traditional Navajo creation myth. In the story, the people and animals have just arrived in this world due to a flood in their old world. Upon arriving they find an ocean but no clean water, so animals are sent back into the old world to retrieve enough water for the First Woman to create streams and rivers. Different animals try, and fail, until Snail girl comes along. It takes her a long time, but she eventually succeeds and the people finally have clean water. The story strives to explain a few natural phenomenons, such as why turtles have shells, why snails leave trails of moisture behind them, and how clean water came into the world.

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When Jaguars Ate the Moon

WJAtM cover

Retold by: María Christina Brusca & Tona Wilson

Illustrated by: María Christina Brusca

Published in 1995

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book

Grade Level: 1-4

Summary: When Jaguars Ate the Moon is a collection of short Native American tales relating to plants and animals. The stories are arranged alphabetically by subject, from anteaters to zompopos. There is at least one story per letter, all of which are based on traditional stories from the Americas.

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The Seven Chinese Brothers

7CB cover

Written by: Margaret Mahy

Illustrated by: Jean & Mou-sien Tseng

Published in 1990

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book

Grade Level: 1-4

Summary: The Seven Chinese Brothers is based on a Chinese folktale and contains references to the Han Dynasty. Each of the seven brothers in this story has a special power, and they all look alike. One day, the brothers notice some men repairing the Great Wall of China, so one of the brothers goes to help them out. He finishes the job in one day, which causes the emperor to become afraid. The emperor calls for the brother’s execution to make sure that he can’t turn his awesome power against him. The other brothers find out and switch places several times, as the specific punishments (such as burning or drowning) won’t work against them. Eventually the emperor and his armies are defeated and the brothers are free to live their lives again.

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The Blind Hunter

TBH cover

Written & Illustrated by: Kristina Rodanas

Published in 2003

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture Book

Grade Level: K-3

Summary: The Blind Hunter is based on an African folktale, and all of the names come from the Shona language. One day Chirobo (a blind man known for his wisdom and kindness) meets a young hunter from another village. After spending the day speaking with Chirobo, the young man (Muteye) agrees to take him hunting. Along the way Chirobo teaches Muteye that he doesn’t need his eyes to see. Instead, he sees through his ears, nose, skin, and at the end: his heart.

Cover/Illustrations: The illustrations in this book are wonderful. I especially enjoyed the style of the people and animals, which appeared very realistic. My favorite pages were those which had a single large picture stretching over both of the facing pages, with the text strategically placed in an area where the colors were lighter. Most of the book was spaced appropriately, but there were a few pages with a lot of white space.

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Stone Soup Stories

Stone Soup Stories: Nail Soup and Cactus Soup

Let’s start with a little background. “Stone soup” stories are folk stories that have appeared in cultures around the world. In these stories a traveler or group of travelers stop somewhere along their journey, usually at a home or small village. Upon their arrival the people who live there claim to have no food to share. The travelers then declare that they will make some soup for everyone by boiling some water and adding a stone… or a nail… or an axe… or some other common item that is easy to find. The villagers become intrigued, and when the travelers mention how much better it will be with _______ (insert various ingredients here) the villagers are quick to offer up the food that they supposedly didn’t have in the beginning. As the travelers keep asking for different ingredients, the villagers get more and more excited, until eventually everyone enjoys a great meal. Sometimes this meal turns into a party.

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