Summary: Febold Feboldson was a Swedish man who did everything he could to keep people on the prairie. He did this because he was afraid of dying of loneliness. He placed goldfish in the lake and told everyone there was gold and crated an unsuccessful rain. Febold showed them trick after trick to get them to stay and they did.
Concepts/values: 1. Most people need a companion and don’t want to grow old alone.
2. Life alone on the prairie would be very lonely.
Reaction: It is interesting and quite creative how Febold comes up with ways to get the people to stay on the prairie. It is surprising that they wouldn’t know that goldfish were not really gold, but just fish. If they picked up the fish they would clearly see that it wasn’t real gold. Also, it is far fetched to think that goldfish would survive all the way from Peru. That is what makes it a tall tale though.
Discussion questions: 1. What did Febold’s good idea make him do?
2. How did Febold make rain?
3. What trick do you think Febold showed the people at the end to get them to stay?
Aesop. Traditional Literature: Fable The Dog in the Manger.
Virginia: University of Virginia Library, 1993.
Summary: A mean dog lies in and guards hay that is intended for oxen to eat.
Concepts/values: 1. Selfishness takes away from everyone.
2. Share with others.
Reaction: It is very selfish of the dog to protect the hay like he was, but I guess he needed a comfortable place to rest. Hopefully he didn’t lie there to long so the oxen could eat. It reminds me of my dog who does the same thing. She will guard something that she thinks is hers, yet has so use or business for it.
Discussion questions: 1. What did the dog do that made the oxen stay away?
2. Why do you think the dog was so protective?
3. How would you get the hay if you were the oxen?
Zhuo, Hao. Traditional Literature: Chinese Fable story A Foolish Man Buys Shoes.
New York: The New York Times Company, 2007.
Summary: A foolish man goes to buy himself shoes, but leaves his shoe size written at home. After going back home and returning to the shoe store with his shoe size he finds the store closed. Someone asks him who the shoes are for, himself or someone else.
Concepts/values: 1. Don’t make life so complicated.
2. Slow down and think through something before you act.
Reaction: I guess you can call me slow, but I had to re-read the story several times before I completely understood. Once I got it, I thought it was a real good story. It is silly that the man wouldn’t just try shoes on the first time he was there instead of going all the way home, but after all, it is about a “foolish” man.
Discussion questions: 1. What did the man use to measure his feet?
2. Why do you think the man is called foolish?
3. Tell me about a time when you were in a hurry and did something foolish.
Summary: While a rotund peasant was asleep a mosquito bit him several times. The first couple of times didn’t bother him, but the fourth time he became angry. Just before the peasant smashed the mosquito he told her that he was going to squash her because she was feeding off his poor old hardened body.
Concepts/values: 1. Don’t annoy others.
2. Mosquito’s are an annoying part of society.
Reaction: This story is quite true in the fact that mosquito’s are very annoying. It is a reality of life and I think most people get angry at a blood-sucking mosquito, especially ones that keep coming back for more. In some parts of the world this can be a real problem and this story is a real fact of life.
Discussion questions: 1. What parts of the peasant’s body did the mosquito bite?
2. Why do you think the peasant wasn’t upset at the first couple of bites?
3. Whose blood squirted from the little belly of the mosquito?
McLaughlin, Marie L. Traditional Literature: Native American Myth The Forgotten Ear of Corn.
Bismarck, ND: Bismarck Tribune Co., 1916.
Summary: An Arikara woman was gathering corn for the winter and when she was finished and ready to go she heard the voice of a child crying. The voice was telling the women not to leave without him. Concerned, she searched and searched for the little voice and in one corner of the field she found a little ear of corn that was speaking to her. She gathered the corn up carefully and left.
Concepts/values: 1. Indian women gather their corn crop carefully so that not one is wasted and keeps the Great Mystery of the story alive.
2. Take responsibility and do not waste food.
Reaction: I felt the story was cute. I liked how the little ear of corn took on human traits and was crying and speaking. The corn had feelings about not wanting to be left. Young children between the ages of 6-9 would enjoy this.
Discussion questions: 1. What did the women drop the ears of corn into?
2. Was the voice she heard loud or faint?
3. The story talks about carefully searching for all ears of corn so that it should not be what?
Ashliman, D.L. Traditional Literature: Chinese myth A Chinese Creation and Flood Myth.
Summary: This Chinese legend asks and answers the questions of who made heaven and earth as well as male and female. Heavenly King made heaven and earth by his intelligence and Ziene made male and female by stories. After the flood a brother and sister decide if it is right to become married to each other or not. They did marry and had a child without arms or legs. The man became angry with this, so he cut the child into pieces and scattered the pieces. The next morning he found the pieces made into men and women and the earth was repopulated.
Concepts/values:_1._Stay_away_from_witchcraft._2._Now_we_know_why_farmer’s_crops_are_destroyed_in_New_Jersey_and_why_pools_and_creeks_are_poisoned.__Reaction'>Concepts/values: 1. The Hei Miao people sing or recite these myths at feasts and festivals.
2. Since the beginning of time people have wondered how and what created the very existence of humans and earth.
Reaction: This is a strange myth in itself. It is written like a poem with stanzas and has incomplete sentences. It is creative in how things are made such as insects were made by tall grass. Also, Zie and Thunder being of bad disposition destroyed the earth by fire and flood. The end is gruesome by the fact that A-Zie and his sister had a child and that child was cut into pieces by A-Zie and thrown all over. Interestingly enough, those body pieces were made into men and women and that is how the story says the earth was repopulated.
Discussion questions: 1. How did the Heavenly King create heaven and earth?
2. What else does this myth say was created on earth?
3. What did A-Zie and his sister do to decide if they were going to be married or not?
Hunt, J.M. Traditional Literature: Greek myth Athena’s Birth.
New York: Mentor, 1940.
Summary: Zeus lusted over Metis, but she didn’t feel the same so she changed herself into different kinds of creatures. Zeus could also change himself so he did and followed Metis. It was prophesized that their first child would be a girl, but the second child, a son, would overthrow Zeus. Zeus swallowed Metis and after time an enormous headache resulted. The other gods came to help and split Zeus’s head open. When they did Athena was born full-grown with armor on and rules over all intellect.
Concepts/values: 1. Since Athena was born from the head of Zeus, she has power over all intelligence.
2. Zeus was a wise god.
Reaction: I enjoyed reading this myth about two gods who didn’t have mutual feelings for each other, but still ended up married. Zeus was really wise in thinking to swallow Metis to avoid having a son who would overthrow him. It was interesting to read how Athena was born from the skull of Zeus as intelligence comes from the mind. As the story goes because she was born from his skull, Athena has control over all things of the intellect.
Discussion questions: 1. What kinds of creatures did Metis turn into?
2. Who was it that prophesized that Metis first child would be a girl and the second a boy?
3. Why does Athena have control over all things of the intellect?
Donovan, Ann Johnson. Traditional Literature: Irish Legend The Legend of the Shamrock.
Summary: A Bishop named Patrick showed a group of followers who were having a hard time believing in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity a shamrock. This was his example of the “Three-in-One.” This convinced the followers and ever since then the shamrock has been respected throughout Ireland. The story also gives the meaning of the word shamrock, which is “summer plant”. The color associated with St. Patrick’s Day is green because it is the color of the shamrock and the color of spring, or new life and also the land of Ireland.
Concepts/values: 1. An explanation of the meaning and importance of the Shamrock comes from an ancient Irish legend.
2. Symbols can help people understand the meaning behind something.
Reaction: I enjoyed reading this legend because it really makes a good point as to the meaning behind the shamrock and how is became so well known. The color green does mean new life and in the spring is when new life begins. It makes sense why green became the color of St. Patrick’s Day because the land of Ireland is green all year round. I believe 4th and 5th graders would really enjoy this legend.
Discussion questions: 1. What did saint Patrick teach throughout the country?
2. Who did Saint Patrick demonstrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity to?
3. Where can you find the symbol of the shamrock?
Sa, Zitkala. Traditional Literature: Native American Legend Dance in a Buffalo Skull.
Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1901.
Summary: One night on the prairie, field mice were singing and dancing while feasting on a buffalo head. Then out of the dark came bright yellow eyes that snuck upon them feasting. It was a cat! The mice ran out of the buffalo skull and away into the darkness.
Concepts/values: 1. While the cats away the mice will play.
2. You have to be very careful at night in the dark because someone may be lurking upon you.
Reaction: This was a cute legend that made you feel like you were there. This is because of the language the writer uses in the story. The cat’s fiery eyes described as two balls of fire. You can just imagine how happy the mice were nibbling on their feast, scurrying throughout the buffalo’s eye sockets, yet peeking up and seeing the fiery little eyes of the cat coming toward them. Then when one squeaked, “Spirit of the Buffalo!” then all of the sudden other mice realizing that it was a cat. What a scary surprise for the mice!
Discussion questions: 1. Describe the eyes of the cat as he approached the mice.
2. What did the mice build in the center of the dance house?
3. What did a frightened mouse think was coming just before the other mice cried out that it was a cat?
Schlosser, S.E. Traditional Literature: American Legend Birth of the Jersey Devil.
New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1986.
Summary: Mother Leeds gave birth to a child that everyone thought would be the devil because rumor had it that Mother Leeds practiced witchcraft. The child was born normal, but then within moments things changed. The child grew, changing into a beast. Then he began beating people including his mother, and then vanished into the storm outside. He is called the Monster of Leeds and later the Jersey Devil and haunts New Jersey.
Concepts/values: 1. Stay away from witchcraft.
2. Now we know why farmer’s crops are destroyed in New Jersey and why pools and creeks are poisoned.
Reaction: This was a quite disturbing legend. The fact that other women would be there for another’s childbirth just because they were curious to see if the child would be born the devil is weird. The raging storm outside is appropriate for the legend as it sets the tone from the beginning.
Discussion questions: 1. Why was the room full of women when Mother Leeds gave birth to a son?
2. Describe the beast that the boy turned into.
3. What were the women beat with after the child turned into a beast?
Summary: Before people were on the earth a monster walked around eating all of the animals except the Coyote. The Coyote became angry that all his friends were gone. The Coyote ended up in the monster’s stomach to see his friends and while in the stomach, Coyote destroyed the monster and his friends were freed. Coyote created something new from the monster’s body parts.
Concepts/values: 1. We now know how Nez Percé came to be.
2. Animals on earth were probably bored before humans existed.
Reaction: The interesting piece of this story is that out of all the animals the monster chose a coyote not to eat. When in fact he could have kept say a mouse that wouldn’t fill him up as much. Then again a mouse wouldn’t have been as clever to go inside the monster’s stomach and free his friends and then there would be no story.
Discussion questions: 1. Where did Coyote go and challenge the monster to eat him?
2. How did the monster try to pull Coyote in?
3. What plan did monster come up with to trick Coyote?
Lester, Julius. Traditional Literature: Native American Trickster Tale How the Animals Came to Earth.
Summary: Animas didn’t live on earth; they lived next door to the moon. One day Sister Moon wasn’t feeling well so Brer Rabbit was to get to a message to Mr. Man that Moon wasn’t doing so well. He jumped and landed on Earth to get the message out and when he went back to tell her what Mr. Man said Moon became angry. She hit Brer Rabbit and split his lip. Rabbit went and told the other animals about all the vegetables on earth so they followed him down and that is how they got here.
Concepts/values: 1. We now know how animals came to be on earth.
2. We know why rabbits have split lips and why the moon has holes in it.
Reaction: This story is cute in how the author uses real life examples to explain why something is. For example, the sun is used to say Sister Moon chases him all over the sky each month and tries to keep up with him. The language is different, there is slang used throughout. I think children ages 9-11 would enjoy reading this.
Discussion questions: 1. What did the animals think about the moon when she started looking different?
2. Who did Brer Rabbit way he was more of a man than?
3. Why are rabbit’s eyes big and wide?