Rackham, Arthur. Traditional Literature: Aesop’s Fable
“The Mouse, the Frog, and the Hawk.” Ware: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1994.
Summary: One day Frog was up to no good and tied his friend Mouse to his leg. Frog took Mouse underwater thinking he had done something good. After a while, Mouse died and floated to the top of the water. A hawk saw mouse and grabbed him, but took Frog too since he was still tied mouse’s leg. In the end both Mouse and Frog are eaten by the hawk.
Your own tricks can end up hurting you.
Reaction: Growing up I always liked Aesop’s Fables because like this story they were easy to read and gave a moral to the story. In this story when Frog ties himself to Mouse you do not think about Frog getting harmed. I think stories like this can get children to think about their actions and how they can hurt not only others, but them selves too.
Why do you think Frog tied Mouse to his leg?
What would you have done if you were Mouse?
What did you learn from this story?
About.com. 26 Sept. 2007 Traditional Literature: Chinese Fable
Summary: A man’s wife wanted him to get her a fox fur coat. He could not get her a fur coat because they were very expensive and rare. He asked a fox that has walked by if she would give him a sheet of her skin. The fox agreed if the man would let go of her tail. The man let go and the fox ran away.
Do not give up on what you have because if you do it could be gone.
Reaction: It is always interesting to hear other culture’s fables because they are a lot like ours. I think having children read fables from other cultures will help them realize that even thought we are different we are a like in many ways. I could not believe the man fell for the fox’s trick. It has been interesting to see that fables from every culture portray fox
Why do you think the fox ran away?
What would you have done if you were the man?
Why do you think the woman wanted the fur coat?
McLaughlin. Marie L. Traditional Literature: Native American Fable
“ Legend of Standing Rock.”
Summary: A Dakota man married an Arikara woman and he has found a new wife. The Arikara woman refused to leave her place on the tent floor. The tribe packed up and moved on without her. Later on that day the husband told his two brothers to go back and get her. When they arrived she had turned to stone. They went back to the tribe and they did not believe them, so then went back to see for themselves. Sure enough when they arrived she had turned to stone.
The Standing Rock is how the Dakota Tribe named a natural formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back.
Reaction: This is a very interesting way to explain natural formations. I enjoyed reading this because they took something as simple as a rock and gave history to it.
Why do you think the woman turned to stone?
Why do you think she did not want to leave her place on the tent floor?
Summary: A trumpeter named Anthony Van Corlaer was sent to warn people that the English were going to attack Amsterdam. He reached a creek which connected the Harlem and Hudson River and decide to swim across because the ferryman was not there. “Anthony decided he would swim across the creek in spite of the devil “(in spuyt den duyvil).” After a struggle with the devil Anthony blew his trumpet and scared the devil off. Anthony ended up drowning and for many years people claimed they could hear his trumpet when it stormed.
An American Legend that explains how the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, located at the northernmost tip of Manhattan Island, got its name. -1
Reaction: I did not realize that New York had legends! I liked how the name was created by play on word, “in spite of the devil (in spuyt den duyvil)”. I think it is special for children to read about the legends that make up their residence.
Why do you think Anthony blew his horn?
Why do you think the people claimed they could hear his trumpet when it was stormy?
What was Anthony trying to do when he was crossing the creek?
The Names upon the Harp: Irish Myth and Legend American Folklore.
New York: Arthur a Levine, 2000.
Summary: An Irish girl looses her father when he goes to get some wood. When she goes to look for him she encounters some leprechauns that are sad to see her cry. They take some of her hair and tie it to a branch and make a magic harp. The music from the harp leads her father home.
This is the story of the Irish harp and tells the story of how the harp became the symbol of “the blessings of the hearth and home the Irish dearly love.” -1
Reaction: I liked how this story was written using Irish accent. I find it interesting how the Irish base a lot of their legends around leprechauns. The stories have the same characters like just different story lines. I think children would enjoy reading this because it has characters that they are familiar with like leprechauns.
Why did the leprechauns take some of the girl’s hair?
How did the father find his way home?
What are some other instruments made with string?
Oban. Traditional Literature: Native American Legend
“Crow Brings Daylight.” -1
Summary: The Inuit people thought the world was dark until crow told them stories of how he had seen daylight. They ask him if he would go and bring them back daylight. He journeys to a village and transforms himself into dust and goes into the chief’s grandson’s ear. He makes the child cry until he is given the ball of daylight. The child gets the ball and crow has the child go outside so crow can turn back into a bird and leave. When crow return he drops the ball and it shatters releasing light everywhere.
This is the legend told by the Inuit Indians explaining why there is light only half of the year in the far north.
Reaction: This story is very creative using animals and magic to explain how daylight came to be. Children would enjoy this because it is a very simple and imaginative explanation on why far north only has daylight half the year. I like how the Native Americans have simple yet interesting legends on how the earth and nature came to be.
Why do you think the Inuit Indians thought the world was dark?
Why do you think the crow used the child to get the ball of light?
Why do you think far north only has daylight half the year?
Evans, Matt. Traditional Literature: Native American Myth
“How Coyote Stole Daylight.” -1
Summary: How Coyote Stole Fire is a Native American myth that tells the story of the arrival of fire. Coyote feels bad for man because he has no fur to keep him warm. Coyote comes up with a plan to steal fire and recruits the other animals to help. Coyote and the animals successfully steal the fire, but are forever marked as result of their struggles.
This tale gives the background on tale about the arrival of fire, and how fire coyotes, squirrels, chipmunks, and frogs got their distinct markings. -1
Reaction: I really enjoyed this story. I think is neat to hear how one culture explains things in nature. I liked how the story explained the “reason” why the coyote’s tales have white marks on the end of their tails, squirrels have, chipmunks, and frogs are marked the way they are. This is a story children of many culture will enjoy.
Why do you think coyote was concerned for man?
How do you think man would have stayed warm with out fire?
Where did coyote get the fire?
Green, Roger Lancelyn. (Editor) Traditional Literature: Myths
“Ra and Sekhmet."
Tales of Ancient Egypt.
London: Puffin, 1970.
Summary: Ra, the God of creation, has created the world and has taken on human form to rule the world. Ra is getting older and people are turning from him and are worshiping Apophis, the spirit of evil. Ra called on Sekhmet, who took on the form of a lioness, to destroy all the people who are worshiping Apophis. Sekhmet does so but is now bold hungry and continues to kill. Ra concocts a mixture that looks like blood. This makes Sekhmet tires and Ra then turns her into Hathor, the goddess of love.
This is the Egyptian story of creation. Tis is not a concept or value. -2
Reaction: I think it is interesting how different cultures have different stories of creation. They have similar qualities but are shaped around that specific culture’s religious beliefs.
Why do you think Ra made himself into human form?
What would you have done with the people if you were Ra?
Summary: Winter is coming and Crow warns Raven about collecting food for the winter. Winter approaches and Raven ignored Crow’s warning and now Raven is hungry. Raven tricks Crow into having a Potlatch so the other animals can hear his beautiful voice. Raven distracts crow from eating, so by the time the potlatch is over Crow is starving. The other animals, including Raven have taken the food and left Crow with nothing. Crow was tricked and his singing voice was ruined and he had to beg for scraps, same place you will find him today.
Concepts/values: Raven gets himself in trouble, but uses trickery to get himself out. -2
Reaction: This story made me feel really bad for Crow. I did not think it was fair how he worked hard to prepare for the winter and Raven took it all away leaving him with nothing. I thought Raven would get caught and the moral would be cheaters never win in the end, not you cheat you win.
Why do you think Raven did not prepare for the winter?
Can you name some animals that store food for the winter? -1
What would you do if someone tricked you like Raven tricked Crow?
Schlosser, S. E. Traditional Literature: European American Trickster Tale
“The Trickster Tricked”
All American Folklore.
Summary: Rabbit and Terrapin are going to race to see who is faster. Terrapin knows Rabbit is faster so he has his family help him out in the race. Rabbit runs as fast as he can but still looses to Terrapin in the end.
Concepts/values: Rabbit is usually playing tricks on others, but this time he is the one who gets tricked. This is not a concept or value. -2
Reaction: This story was funny. It was a spin on the Tortes and the Hare. I think every Rabbit needs a Terrapin. I think children will find this story to be hilarious! Rabbit could not figure out how Terrapin kept getting ahead of him, not knowing that it was not him.
Why do you think it is nice to play tricks on others?
What lesson will Rabbit learn from this experience?
Can you think of a time when someone played a trick on you?
All American Folklore.
Summary: Pecos Bill is looking for a hard outfit. He is directed to a place where the “fellers bit nails in half for fun”. Along the way he meets a rattlesnake and a cougar. He tames both of them and rides the cougar into camp. When he reaches camp he wipes his mouth with a prickly pear and when he asks who the boss is they claim him as the new boss.
Concepts/values: Texas has been tamed and Pecos Bill is looking for a new adventure. This is not a concept or value. -2
Reaction: I thought this was a good continuation of the Pecos Bill series. He went to New Mexico in search of the hardest outfit and ends up being the hardest outfit.
What happens in this story that makes it a tall tale?