Synopsis: Long ago in Japan, a funny little woman was making rice dumpling when one rolled off the table and into an unusual road. Along the road, the funny woman meets several Jizos who warns her not to go further down the road for there is an evil oni who will catch her. The oni takes the funny woman to his home and makes her cook rice using a special paddle for all of the onis. The woman wants to leave and escapes with the magic paddle and then becomes the richest woman in Japan.
Personal Review: ** (2) out of (5) stars. I found that the funny woman often upset me by running after a wasted dumpling and then only to be captured by the oni. It seemed to me that the moral of the story is find something that is extremely beneficial, steal it, and then profit from the item.
Synopsis: A story parallel to the modern day Disney version, Cinderella, Sootface is belittled by her two older sisters and made to do all the chores. The village does not recognize Sootface as a beautiful woman because she is covered in ashes. A known invisible hunter is in search of a bride who is honest and pure. A challenge is made to all the woman in the village to see who can identify the invisible man’s bow and string. Sootface’s true nature of kindness and pure heart is revealed and becomes the wife of the hunter.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. I love this Indian version of the Cinderella story because it shows the students that looking the prettiest is not all that should be important. Kindness, respect, and a great heart are the most valued qualities in friendships, and relationships.
Sukey and the Mermaid
Author: Robert D. San Souci
Grade level: 3rd-5th
Synopsis: A young girl who is controlled by her mean step-pa to do rigorous labor around the house runs away to the sea for a break. The girl calls a mermaid and they form a bond. After a while the girl grows sickly and is called to the sea to the mermaid. The mermaid takes the girl down to sea to live for a few years-without ridicule. The girl wants to go back to mankind and experience life. The girl, now a woman, brings a dowry back home and finds love. Her step-pa kills her love and in return receives karma. With the help of the mermaid, the husband comes back to life and the woman finds happiness.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. This book shows a great parallel to abuse and not having power to stop the dictator. The mermaid represents hope and is a great role model for the girl to show her that can make changes in life.
Synopsis: The Lord of the Sun sent life to earth and into a maiden in Pueblo. The maiden had a son and they were both sad because the villagers teased them for not having a father. Determined to find his father, the boy ventures out and returns to the sun through an arrow. The Lord of the Sun puts his son to four trials and the son passes with the rewards of his father spirit. He returns to Pueblo and the villagers rejoice his return.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. This book was excellent in a cross cultural aspect on Native American myths. The pictures were unique and helped breathe life to the story.
Synopsis: Rose, the older sister, is mean and cruel to Blanche. Rose and her mother are alike and wish to become fine ladies but leave Blanche to do all the chores around the house while they sit on the porch. After Blanche receives a beating from her mother and sister, she runs to woods and runs into an strange old lady. The lady take cares of Blanche and the girl proves that she is kind hearted to the woman. The old lady lets Blanche take special eggs that turn into treasure and finery if thrown over the left shoulder. Rose and the mother are wicked and try to trick the old woman for such treasure. Yet, they prove to be wicked and they are given wolves and snakes. Upon returning home, Blanche left for town to live a good life.
Activity: A Venn diagram can be done by comparing and contrasting other versions of Cinderella.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. This book is wonderful and teaches concepts such as manners and kindness. If you possess these qualities, one day you will be rewarded with blessings.
Synopsis: A mother leaves her three daughters to go visit Po po (Grandma). A wolf was waiting outside and heard that the mother left. So the wolf pretended to be Po po and tricked the three girls into letting him inside. He pretends to be nice and soon the oldest sister, Shang, realizes that Po Po is really a wolf. They talk of a Gingnut tree and the powers that it beholds knowing the wolf is not aware of the falsehood behind it. The girls “try” to pull Po Po to the tree to get the Gingnut but ends up dropping the wolf and he dies.
Activity: Discuss the story from the wolf’s view.
Personal Review: **** (4) out of (5) stars. The girls show bravery and cleverness when they find out a wolf as entered their own. This book shows the importance of defending yourself and keeping a level-head.
Synopsis: The tale starts with a mosquitoe telling a ridiculous lie to an iguana. The iguana did not want to hear any of it so he stomps off with sticks in his ears to drown out sound. This starts off a chain reaction in the jungle among the animals and ends up with a miscommunication of how the owlet was killed and why the Owl will not call the sun. In the end, the mosquitoe is squashed by a human for buzzing in his ear.
Activity: This story takes place in Western Africa, and this book can be an introductory activity to a Geography lesson by learning all about this area.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. I really liked this book! It offered children a way to accept their responsibility and how one’s actions can set-off a chain reaction.
Author: Audrey Wood
Grade level: K-3rd
Genre: Fairy Tale
Synopsis: Seven good children by the name of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday ask for goodies from their mom. When the mother went out to shop she told her children not to let anyone in or touch fire. An evil witch called Heckedy Peg captured the children because she tricked the children into doing so and turned them into food. The mother finds her children about to be eaten and guess who each child is by associating the food they asked for previously to what type of food they were then. The witch was run off and never seen again.
Activity: Ask the children: What food do you think you would be if Heckedy Peg got hold of you? What item would be paired with you? Why?
Personal Review: **** (4) out of (5) stars. The illustrations are wonderful and I can clearly see a resemblance of Disney stories. However I fail to see a moral that the children can learn from other than don’t talk to strangers.
Anansi the Spider
Author: Gerald McDermott
Grade level: Pre-K/ 1st
Genre: Folktale/ Multicultural
Synopsis: Anansi the spider has six son, all of whom have special abilities. Anansi leaves town and runs into trouble. His son sees this and tell his brother for them all to save father. One by one, each spider’s ability is used to save Anansi. Once they were all safe and at home, Anansi sees a globe of light and wonders what son should be prized with such a gift. Nyame (god of all things) holds onto the globe and puts it in the sky to prevent further argument between all the brothers.
Activity: Have groups of 7 and all the children make mask that represent each spider. They must then retell the story.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. I truly loved this tale from the Ashantis. It was unique and showed how each person can contribute their special ability to a whole and do something together.
Author: Hayes Roberts
Grade level: 3nd-4th
Synopsis:A young monkey by the name of Sari wakes up one morning and notices things are the way they should be. She is forced to fix her favorite toy castle bridge, pick up all the toys on the stairs, and herd llamas so she could get to school. After all of that she missed her favorite class. She had had enough and stayed up one night to see what was causing these problems and to her surprise there were invisible alligators under her bed. The alligators explained that they caused trouble for everyone as they showed her around their headquarters. The alligator showed her a book of all the troubles they have caused her and all the things she has learned how to do. Sari leaving the lair says “Nope. I don’t get it.” On her way out she sees rocks on the stairs. She picks them up so no one gets hurt, she rebuilds a bridge so people can cross and she herds the dangerous sheep to the mountain top and was “safely in bed in no time at all, fast asleep and dreaming about Algebra II.”
Activity: Write about the chores they have to do at home and how it might help them later.
Personal Review: ***** (5) out of (5) stars. I think this a wonderfully written and illustrated book. There is a great underlying concept of how learning can take place even when you least expect it.
Author: Carol Moore
Grade level: Pre-K
Synopsis: This book is about an eel by the name of Ollie. Ollie has a jar that he is able to swim over, under, through, around, and back into. At the end of the story Ollie has made a friend called Izzy and they both can swim over, under, through, around and back into the jar together.
Activity: Have kids cut out and color their own eels and give them names
Personal Review: *** (3) out of (5) stars. This book would be a great reference for teaching a child to read. This book could also be used as a resource to teach verbs.
Synopsis: This is a short story about a cat looking for the perfect box. At the end of the story she finds what she is looking for and has kittens.
Activity: A chart of adjective will be made and the teacher will describe what the adjectives mean.
Personal Review: *** (3) out of (5) stars. This book would be another great reference for teaching a child to read. This book could also be used as a resource to teach adjectives.
Wolstencroft the Bear
Author: Karen Lewis
Grade level: 2nd-3rd
Synopsis: This is a story about a Teddy bear called Wolstencroft. He was a happy bear with lots of friends around Christmas time. As the days grew closer and closer to Christmas the other bears were being purchased until Wolstencroft was the last bear on the shelf. He was left wondering what was wrong with him. When Easter rolls around he meets three rabbits who try to help him figure out what’s wrong with him. Rita thinks that his name might be the reason no one wants to buy him so she helps him pick a new one. The next Christmas comes around and no one has purchased Wolstencroft and he starts to hate his name. “Then one frosty evening” a little boy with the name Wolstencroft who also dislikes his name finds the bear. The both realize their name isn’t so bad and Wolstencroft was taken home that night.
Activity: The children will color their favorite stuff animal or toy and share with a small group why it is so special.
Personal Review: **** (4) out of (5) stars. This is a nice little book with great artwork and a “feel good” story. This would be a great book for the holiday season. This could also be used to teach children why there is nothing wrong with being different.
Round Birds Can’t Fly
Author: Lea McAndrews
Grade level: K-1st
Synopsis: Round Bird has a very large body and tiny wings. He really wants to play with the other birds but he cannot fly. He tries every day to fly by jumping off a tree into some bushes. He comes to the realization that there are some things some birds aren’t meant to be able to do and that he needs to find “those special things that only special birds do”.
Personal Review: * (1) out of (5) stars. This is a very uninteresting book with spotty artwork. The message is passable at best and it’s truly difficult to see which age group would benefit from this book.
Synopsis: This is a children’s book about the animal you can see at the zoo. It covers lions to Rhinos and they sounds that they make.
Activity: The children will draw their favorite animal from the book and explain why they like it.
Personal Review: *** (3) out of (5) stars. This would be a great book for introducing a child to the types of animals and what sounds they make. It has colorful pictures and sound effects for each animal.