Magical Tales From Many Lands

Magical Tales From Many LandsTitle:  Magical Tales From Many Lands
Author:  (retold by) Margaret Mayo
Illustrator:  Jane Ray
Publisher:  Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN:  0-525-45017-3

Summary:  An anthology of stories about magic from around the world.
Butterfly’s notes:  These tales feature strong heroes and heroines who stand by their morals and learn from their mistakes.  I absolutely loved this anthology as a child; it is one of my personal favorites.  There is something about Jane Ray’s illustrations that really brings the stories to life.

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, fairy tales, mythology and legends, fantasy, anthologies, picture books, Butterfly’s favorites

Babushka Baba Yaga

Babushka Baba YagaTitle:  Babushka Baba Yaga
Author/ Illustrator:  Patricia Polacco
Publisher:  Philomel Books
ISBN:  0-399-22531-5

Summary:  The forest creature Baba Yaga is considered to be an evil witch,  but she feels misunderstood.  Wishing for a grandchild of her own, she disguises herself as a babushka (grandmother) and offers her help to Natasha, a single mother whose son has no babushka.  But, when Baba Yaga’s  foster grandson is scared by tales of the forest witch, she flees lest he discover the truth about her.  Only when danger threatens her foster family does the Baba Yaga reveal her true identity.
Butterfly’s notes:  There are many tales about the Russian witch, Baba Yaga Bony Legs.  This story shows a much softer side of the Baba Yaga that is compeltely loveable.  You can’t help but sympathize with her as a social outcast and rooting for her in her disguise as a babushka.  I love the drawings too!

For a more traditional Baba Yaga story, try reading Baba Yaga Bony Legs in Magical Tales From Many Lands.

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, fairy tales, fantasy, mythology and legends, picture books, re-thinking fairy tales, profound messages, Butterfly’s favorites

17 Kings and 42 Elephants

17 Kings and 42 ElephantsTitle:  17 Kings and 42 Elephants
Author:  Margaret Mahy
Illustrator:  Patricia MacCarthy
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
ISBN:  0-8037-0458-5

Summary:  A procession through an African jungle.
Butterfly’s notes:  Beautiful batik-style illustrations perfectly off-set this luscious poem.  It is easy to devleop a rhythm while reading this book, so it’s great for reading aloud.  It isn’t so much a story as an exploration of the jungle.  Kids can imagine for themselves why the Kings are out in the rainforest with 42 elephants and where they are going.

Categories:  ages 4-6, ages 7-10, fantasy, animal stories, poetry, picture books, Butterfly’s favorites

Horton Hatches the Egg

Horton Hatches the EggTitle:  Horton Hatches the Egg
Author/ Illustrator:  Dr. Seuss
Publisher:  Random House
ISBN:  0-394-80077-X
0-394-90077-4 (lib. bdg.)

Summary:  Horton the Elephant vows to keep watch over an egg until the mother bird (Mayzie the lazy) returns.  After many trials and difficulties, the egg starts to hatch, but who will be the true parent?  Horton, who sat faithfully by the egg for months, or Mayzie who laid it?
Butterfly’s notes:  This is one of my absolute favorite books to read aloud.  There is something so unbelieveably loveable about the character Horton!

Categories:  ages 4-6, ages 7-9, funny stories, profound messages, animal stories, picture books, Butterfly’s favorites

I Can Hear the Sun

I Can Hear the SunTitle:  I Can Hear the Sun:  A Modern Myth
Author/ Illustrator:  Patricia Polacco
Publisher:  Philomel Books
ISBN:  0-399-22520-X

Summary:  Stephanie Michele, animal caretaker at Lake Merritt, befriends Frondo, an orphan boy from the settlement house in town.  In Frondo, Stephanie Michele finds a kindred spirit; they both have a way with animals and they both listen to the sun for wisdom.  Together with a few of the “regulars” at the park, they form a strong friendship.  But, when the people from the settlement house propose to send Frondo away, the friends are faced with a harsh reality.
Butterfly’s notes:  The characters in this book are all unwanted by society, but they form friendships based on their mutual outcast status.  Patricia Polacco refers to I Can Hear the Sun  as a “modern myth”, and it is just that.  It is a story with strong characters, true friendships, and a mystical but bittersweet ending.  Since the author often bases her stories on her own experiences or those of her family, this book is particularly intriguing.  What real-life thing could have happened to her that would prompt a fantasy like this one?

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, animal stories, fantasy, mythology and legends, picture books, re-thinking fairy tales, profound messages, Butterfly’s favorites

Owl Moon

Owl MoonTitle:  Owl Moon
Author:  Jane Yolen
Illustrator:  John Schoenherr
Publisher:  Philomel Books
ISBN:  0-399-21457-7

Summary:  A young child describes going owling with Pa.  They go out into the woods at night in hopes of seeing a Great Horned Owl.
Butterfly’s notes:  The narrator is non-descript enough to be a boy or a girl.  The words of this book are poetic and draw you into the story in a real way.  Owling is something everyone should be allowed to try.

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, animal stories, nature, Butterfly’s favorites

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Joyful NoiseTitle:  Joyful Noise:  Poems for Two Voices
Author:  Paul Fleischman
Illustrator:  Eric Beddows
Publisher:  HarperTrophy
ISBN:  0-06-446093-2

Summary:  Inspiring poems meant to be read aloud by two people at once in the voices of insects.
Butterfly’s notes:  Some of these poems are silly and others are serious.  It’s great fun to read aloud with a partner this way.  Joyful Noise is in a genre of its own!

Categories:  ages 10-12, animal stories, anthologies, funny stories, nature, poetry, Butterfly’s favorites

Water Dance

Water DanceTitle:  Water Dance
Author/ Illustrator:  Thomas Locker
Publisher:  Harcourt Brace and Company
ISBN:  0-15-201284-2

Summary:  Water itself narrates this languidly beautiful description of the water cycle.
Butterfly’s notes:  Reading this book is like a spiritual experience.  It is a gorgeously-worded book with powerful drawings that will leave you saying “wow”.

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, nature, picture books, poetry, profound messages, Butterfly’s favorites

Grandad’s Prayers Of The Earth

Grandad's Prayers Of The EarthTitle:  Grandad’s Prayers Of The Earth
Author:  Douglas Wood
Illustrator:  P. J. Lynch
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
ISBN:  0-7636-0660-X

Summary:  A young boy takes walks in the woods with his grandfather, and his grandfather teaches him about the prayers of the trees, rocks, streams, and other parts of nature.
Butterfly’s notes:  Warning, this book has been proven to bring grown-ups to tears!  One of the most beautiful books about prayer, death, and nature ever written.  This book is profoundly spiritual, but not specific to any religion.

Categories:  ages 7-9, ages 10-12, nature, picture books, profound messages, religious, Butterfly’s favorites

The Lorax

The LoraxTitle:  The Lorax
Author/ Illustrator:  Dr. Seuss
Publisher:  Random House
ISBN:  394-82337-0

Summary:  The Lorax is a stubborn old environmentalist struggling to save the land of Truffula Trees from the tree-chopping, pollution-spewing Once-ler family.
Butterfly’s notes:  This is one of Dr. Seuss’s treasured classics.  A great book for fostering environmentalism in kids.  This old edition contains a line that has been removed from later versions:  “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.”  Seuss removed this line from the book after cleanup efforts were begun on Lake Erie.

Categories:  ages4-6, ages 7-9, ages 10-12, animal stories, funny stories, picture books, profound messages, nature, Butterfly’s favorites

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