© 1993 by
Even animals find themselves
in places where they feel different, and good writers know how
to make these books tell a great story about understanding and
cooperation. Check out these great books at your public library!
The cover above, for Stellaluna
is a book about a baby bat who lives in a nest with birds. The
birds are her family, but Stellaluna is different. Will Stellaluna
ever find her bat family? Find out by reading this book!
Cat in Search of a Friend, by Meshack Asare
Brooklyn, NY: Kane/Miller Publishers,
Originally published in Austria, 1984
A magnificent Austrian retelling of the popular folktale about
the nature of cats, but markedly different than the version told
by Rudyard Kipling as "The Cat Who Walks Alone," in
his "Just So" collections. In Kipling's version, all
the early animals become domesticated to serve humans, except
the cat, who resists domestication, and continues to walk alone.
In this tale, Meshak Asare tells of a honey-colored
cat who goes out in search of a friend who can protect her in
the wild woods. She first asks the playful monkeys if they will
be her friends and they agree, telling the cat, "You will
never find better and stronger friends than us." But the
monkeys run away in fear, when the chimpanzees come. So the cat
plays with the chimps ... until the gorillas come.
Throughout this story, the cat makes friends
with bigger and bigger animals, until finally she discovers that
even the largest beast, the elephant, is afraid: of the man with
the gun. The cat then follows the man home, believing he would
be a good protector. Until ... the man reaches his hut and the
cat watches the angry wife chasing her husband with a wooden
spoon! "The woman is stronger than the strongest man,"
the cat decides, and stays in the hut. But, when the cat finds
out what frightens the woman, and that the cat, herself, can
make the woman feel safe again, the cat in search of a friend
makes her final discovery: "My friend can be anybody. I
alone am my own master."
Beautifully painted in rich sepia tones,
this book is highly recommended for teaching the value of self-representation
Possum Magic, by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Julie Vivas
Adelaide, Australia: Omnibus Books, 1983
"Once upon a time, but not very long ago," this story
begins, "deep in the Australian bush lived two possums."
Hush, a young possum, lives with his Grandma Poss, who makes
wonderful bush magic. "She made wombats blue and kookaburras
pink. She made dingoes smile and emus shrink. But the best magic
of all was..." Grandma Poss made Hush invisible!
Hush loved being invisible, and having
great adventures no animal could see. Hush has a lot of very
silly fun playing with the bigger animals who don't know she's
there. Best of all, she was protected from the snakes that might
One day, though, Hush decides that she
wants to know what she looks like, and she asks Grandma Poss
to make her visible again. But what will happen when Grandma
Poss can't remember the magic to make Hush reappear? Find out
about the adventures of this little possum and her grandmother,
as they travel all over Australia, trying to find the right stuff
for making Hush visible again.
Clap Your Hands © 1992 by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
In Clap Your Hands, all the different
animals dance and play! Youngest readers, under 5, love to follow
along with the instructions for body movements in this book.
And the illustrations are cheerfully bright. An active, happy
book for little ones.
The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs © 1988 by Phoebe
Jillian Jiggs loves to make puppet pigs!
She makes such "wonderful, amazing" pigs that all her
friends want one. Jillian tries to make enough, but finds out
that it's better to teach her friends how to make their own kinds
of puppets. You can follow the instructions to make your own
puppet pigs, in this book. Great for kids 6 and up.
MORE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING
FROM AROUND THE WORLD...
Birds of a Feather...
A Bellbird in
a Flame Tree
by Kilmeny Niland
Tambourine Books, 1991
The European twelve days of Christmas are celebrated Australian-style,
when animals from down under, such as wallabies, dingoes, and
lorikeets, are sent as gifts!
by Holly Keller
Greenwillow Books, 1992
On an island in the tropical beauty of the Caribbean, kindly
Pops runs a hospital for birds! What will happen when Pops and
his young friend Simon work to help a flamingo to get well again?
Read this book to find out!
Just Plain Fancy
by Patricia Polacco.
The Amish people, of whom young Naomi is a part, value simplicity
in all things. What happens if the marvelous and special bird
that hatches from the egg Naomi finds is too fancy for her family
and friends? This book tells the story.
Lorenzo the Naughty Parrot
by Tony Johnson
San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
Lorenzo lives in a garden in Mexico, where the only thing he
loves more than cookies is watching out for the human family
with whom he lives. Read about how Lorenzo gets in some very
Red Dragonfly on My Shoulder
Haiku by Sylvia Cassedy and Kunihiro Suetake
NY: HarperCollins, 1992
Elegantly illustrated haiku about animals, translated from the
Retold and illustrated by Kristina Rodanas
Clarion Books, 1992
This retelling of a Zuni Indian legend helps us learn about how
greed offends the Spirits, so the Zuni people are given a poor
harvest. Find out how two children earn the Corn Maidens' blessings,
with a little help from a dragonfly.
The Importance of Tricksters and Other Mischief-Makers
Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folktale
Un lazo a la luna: Una leyenda peruana
by Lois Ehlert
translated from the English by Amy Prince
San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
This rich bilingual adaption of a Peruvian folktale introduces
children to Fox and Mole, as they try to climb to the moon on
a rope of woven grass. Fox climbs high, but Mole slides back
to the ground, so embarrassed that, to this day, he only comes
out at night.
Ma'ii and Cousin Horned Toad
by Shonto Begay
What happens when you try to get something for nothing? This
Navajo tale shows how Cousin Horned Toad teaches a good lesson
to Ma'ii, the greedy trickster coyote.
Borreguita y el Coyote
A Tale from Ayulta Mexico
by Verna Aardema
NY: Knopf, 1991
This folktale about how Borreguita, the little lamb, tricks the
predatory coyote, will literally leave youngsters howling with
every reading! Auuuuuuuuu!!! Available in both English and Spanish.
An instant classic!
The Elephant's Wrestling Match
by Judy Sierra
Lodestar Books, 1992
How can it be that only the tiny bat is able to defeat the mighty
elephant in a wrestling match? Learn the answer in this retelling
of a folktale from the Bulu people of Cameroon, Africa.
by Linda Shute
What will happen, if Tío Conejo (Uncle Rabbit)
wishes that Papa Díos make him bigger? Young children
love stories about the African-Cuban trickster Tío Conejo,
and there are many more to be found!
Zomo the Rabbit
by Gerald McDermott
San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
In this re-telling of a traditional tale from West Africa, the
mischievous trickster Zomo wants to be smarter, but how will
he figure out how to do the three hard jobs the Sky God gives
him, so Zomo can get what he wants? Read this book to find out!
Who's That Stranger?
Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants
A Masai Tale by Tololwa M. Mollel
NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1992
All kinds of animals try to help their friend the hare figure
out the puzzle of the stranger in the hare's cave! The hare says
the stranger eats big rhinos for lunch and even bigger elephants
for supper! What can the stranger be? Read this wonderful book
to find out.
The Chase: A Retelling of a Kutenai Indian Tale
told by Beatrice Tanaka
NY: Crown. 1991
The sight of rabbit racing through the forest makes Coyote think
hunters must be chasing, and runs after Rabbit; Moose sees his
friends running joins the chase; pretty soon, all the animals
in the forest are running, running running! For fun at home,
or for instructional purposes, ask children to compare this story
to Verna Aardema's Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears
and to the favorite Plop Plop!. What are the similarities
between all the animals? What do all the animals in each book
learn about fear?
The Greatest Of All: A Japanese Folktale
Retold by Eric A. Kimmel
Holiday House, 1991
Who will make the mightiest husband? Father mouse sets out in
search of a strong mouse to marry his daughter, asking the emperor,
the sun, a cloud, the wind, and a wall, until he finally discovers
who the mightiest mouse of all really is.
by Adrienne Kennaway
What will happen when Bushbaby, who loves figs, climbs a tree
guarded by a fierce lizard, and gets stuck in the treetop all
night with a terrible stomachache? Read to find out!
Ishi's Tale of Lizard
translated by Leanne Hinton
Farrar Straus Giroux. 1992
The story, about Lizard, had been passed on for countless generations
and Ishi first heard it when he was a young boy. This version
was by told by Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi tribe
who lived in Northern California.
Somewhere in Africa
by Ingrid Mennen.
NY: Dutton, 1992
Is Africa all really one big jungle? No way! In this story, a
boy named Ashraf lives in a city in Africa, where the only wild
animals are found in books.
How the Animals Got Their Colors
by Michael Rosen
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
A simplified version of the collection of Kipling's "Just
So" stories, the nine tales here originate from every continent,
and explain why a variety of animals look the way they do.
The Zebra-Riding Cowboy: A Folk Song from the Old West
collected by Angela Shelf Medearis
Henry Holt, 1992
When an "educated fellow" shows up at the Z-Bar Ranch,
all the cowboys are surely surprised when the stranger rides
the Zebra Dun. This book gives a useful entry into offering young
children a part of the rich history of African freemen and Mexican
caballeros in the nineteenth century. Music for the folksong