Stellaluna © 1993 by Janell Cannon.

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, 1986
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 and respect.

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 get her!

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 Gilman

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.



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!

Island Baby
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.
NY:Bantam, 1990

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 naughty trouble!


Dragonfly Helpers


Red Dragonfly on My Shoulder
Haiku by Sylvia Cassedy and Kunihiro Suetake
NY: HarperCollins, 1992

Elegantly illustrated haiku about animals, translated from the Japanese.

Dragonfly's Tale
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
Scholastic 1992

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.

Rabbit Wishes
by Linda Shute
Lothrop, 1995

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 for Supper!
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
Little, 1991

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
by Ishi
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 is provided.





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