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Tales With a Twist


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Recommended by Sandra, a librarian in our Children's Library.

Check our other Fave Five lists, too!

The Mitten

A Ukranian folktale adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett
1078408.jpg Nicki is determined to have his new knitted mittens to be white, despite his grandmothers warning that if he drops one, he would never be able to find it in the snow. Of course, one of his mittens falls in the snow without him realizing it. An assortment of animals find refuge from the cold in this nice, warm cozy mitten, until a tiny mouse follows and stretched mitten. What happens next makes a wonderfully funny climax and leaves the grandmother puzzling. Bretts distinctive artwork makes this version of the folktale a visual delight.

Anansi and the Talking Melon

A West African folktale retold by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Janet Stevens
1112731.jpg Anasi the Spider is too lazy to grow his own food, so he pokes a hole in one of Elephants ripe melons, crawls inside, and begins gorging. When he can eat no more and tries to get out, he cant. Hes too fat. While he waits to get think he amuses himself by tricking Elephant and other animals into thinking they have discovered a talking melon, one that must be shown to the King. The melon will not talk to the King at first, but when it does, the result is a riotous and funny end to the tale. This is but one of many humorous and charming Anasi the trickster tales.

Coyote Steals the Blanket

A Ute tale retold and illustrated by Janet Stevens
1100083.jpg Coyote does what he wants and takes what he wants, despite the often dire consequences. What he absconds with in this tale is a beautiful blanket he finds draped over a rock in the middle of nowhere because it would make a perfect new coat for him. Hummingbird warns him that the spirit of the great desert will be angry, but Coyote runs a way with the blanket anyway. Soon a terrible rumble, rumble, rumble is chasing him. It is a Killer Rock! Other animals try to halt the rock, but fail. Only little Hummingbird can spare Coyote from being crushed, but he must relinquish the blanket. Now, you would think that Coyote had learned a lesson. But on the final comical page, you realize that, No, he has not!

A Big Quiet House

A Yiddish Folktale from Eastern Europe retold by Heather Forest and illustrated by Susan Greenstein
1155399.jpg A poor man living in a tiny cluttered house full of noisy children and a snoring wife decide to seek the advice of the village wise woman. If only I had a big, quiet house, then I could finally get a good nights sleep. He faithfully follows the nonsensical advice she gives him, such as bring a chicken into your house, and when that doesnt help him sleep she tells him to add a goat, then a cow, then a horse, then a sheep. The poor man does finally get a good nights sleep, but not in the way he expected. This tale is also known as It Could Always be Worse and advice is sought from the village Rabbi.

Tikki, Tikki, Tembo

A Chinese folktale retold by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blair Lent
1029087.jpg The first son born into a family is honored with a great long name, Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo. It means the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. The second born son is named Chang, which means little or nothing. One day, as the boys are playing, Chang falls into a well and his older brother must run for help. The Old Man with the Ladder is able to rescue him quickly. A few months later Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into the well and Chang must run for help, but because his brothers name is so long, he is out of breath, it takes him a long time to explain what has happened. The Old Man with the Ladder is able to rescue him, but because he has been in the well so long, he does not recover quickly. Things are not always the blessing they seem to be. Ever since then the Chinese have given their children little, short names, according to this tale. Kids enjoy the fun rhythm of this story and try to repeat the great long name.