The Aesop Prize and Aesop Accolades are conferred annually
by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore
Society upon English language books for children and young
adults, both fiction and nonfiction. Nominated books, which must be published in the year of the deadline or the year before, must be
received by committee members no later than August 15.
The winning books are announced at the annual meeting of the
American Folklore Society each October.
A list of past Aesop Award and Accolade recipients is below.
Prize Review Criteria
- Folklore should be central to the book’s content and, if
appropriate, to its illustrations.
- The folklore presented in the book should accurately
reflect the culture and worldview of the people whose folklore
is the focus of the book.
- The reader’s understanding of folklore should be
enhanced by the book, as should the book be enhanced by the presence
- The book should reflect the high artistic standards of
the best of children’s literature and have strong appeal
to the child reader.
- Folklore sources must be fully acknowledged and
annotations referenced within the bound contents of the publication.
Please submit a copy of each nominated title to each
committee member. Aesop Prize Committee members for 2016-2017 are:
Please direct questions about the Aesop Prize and Aesop Accolades to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Suzy Grindrod, 2030 Carey Court, Madison WI 53704
- Lindsey Carmichael, 14-3650 Hammonds Plains Road, Suite 405, Upper Tantallon, NS, CANADA B3Z 4R3
- Spencer Green, 1520 MacIntosh Way Hummelstown, PA 17036 (Chair)
- Kate Schramm, 2706 South Banta Avenue, Bloomington IN 47403
Aesop Award and Accolade Recipients
2016 AESOP PRIZES
Camper, Cathy, and Raúl the Third. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2016. ISBN: 978-1452138367.
Lupe Impala (skilled mechanic and brave heroine,) El Chavo Flapjack (octopus and car washer extraordinaire,) and Elirio Malaria (an expert detailer who happens to be a mosquito) — three friends first introduced in Camper’s graphic novel, Lowriders in Space — are back in this second book of the series. They own their garage and everything is going well until an earthquake rocks their world (literally!) and they discover that their beloved cat Genie is missing. When they hear a plaintive wail echoing off the buildings of the city, “HELP MEE-EEEEW!” they set out to find Genie in their exquisitely detailed lowrider, a journey that leads them into a mysterious corn maze and ultimately to Mictlan, the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld.
Along the way they encounter a cast of characters that readers may recognize from the folklore of Mesoamerica, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. In the corn maze they meet the trickster Coyote, who tells them a tale about Mictlantecuhtli and Xilonen, the Aztec goddess of corn, while guiding them to the entrance of the Underworld. On the way they pass colossal carved Olmec heads, pick up a passenger—La Llorona, the weeping ghost who is forever searching for her lost children—and outsmart Chupacabra, a blood-sucking monster. When they finally meet Mictlantecuhtli, he sets impossible tasks for the friends to complete before they can rescue Genie (as well as themselves,) and finally challenges them to a Lucha Libre wrestling match, with a surprising outcome.
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is an uproarious mixture of meticulously researched pre-Columbian and Mexican folklore, wordplay in English and Spanish, Mexican pop-culture, science, mythical quest, and classic buddy-movie, illustrated with highly-detailed ballpoint pen artwork by Raúl the Third. For readers unfamiliar with the culture, it introduces them to a colorful new world yet one that has had significant impact on contemporary U.S. culture. Equally important, the Lowriders series celebrates the heritage of so many children growing up in the United States today. The fact that it is a graphic novel, the preferred genre of many younger readers, makes the story memorable and accessible. A number of authors are adapting folk tales into graphic novels, but few are doing it with Cathy Camper’s attention to honoring the sources of the folklore and validating living culture.
Gerstein, Mordicai. I Am Pan! New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-62672-035-0
As the title suggests, this retelling of Pan’s myths is narrated by Pan and told and illustrated with playful exuberance in comic-book style. Pan’s narration of his own stories, and that of the related Greek pantheon, infuses it with humor, energy, and personality, which is often lacking in retelling but which, as Gerstein argues in his notes, is inherent to the stories themselves. The personality Gerstein’s retelling brings out in these stories drawn from Graves, Ovid, The Homeric Hymns, and Hesiod enhances our appreciation of the human foibles so often exhibited by the Greek gods. We see the gods quiver before Typhon, turning themselves into animals to hide from him, King Midas being cursed with donkey ears for offending Apollo’s pride, and other jealousies, loves, and disappointments. This retelling makes the stories not just fun but accessible and relatable.
Since the stories are taken from diverse sources, we get a broad look at many myths as well as a mythic account of the battle of Marathon where a small Greek force improbably defeats a Persian invasion. From Pan’s birth and introduction to the Greek gods, his banishment back to Arcadia, to the grossly exaggerated rumors of his death, we meet grumpy Zeus, crabby Hera, dreamy Apollo, lovely Aphrodite, the bully Ares, sharp-eyed Artemis, the moon, the monster Typhon, Echo, Mount Timolus, and donkey-eared King Midas. Not a bad introduction to Greek mythology, and easily one of the most fun.
2016 AESOP ACCOLADES
Tonatiuh, Duncan. The Princess and the Warrior. New York: Abrams, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4197-2130-4.
When a kind and generous princess rejects shallow royal suitors for a poor warrior, her father sends him to battle the kingdom’s most powerful enemy. But as the warrior begins to win, the enemy hatches a plan –tell the princess her love has died, sending her into an endless sleep. The warrior’s love and loyalty is strong enough to overcome even this, and the pair endure to this day, albeit in a new form.
The Princess and the Warrior is both a universal story of star-crossed love and a por qué tale, revealing the origin of Mexico’s volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl (Sleeping Woman) and Popocatépetl (Smoking Mountain). Drawing from several oral and published versions of the legend, Tonatiuh adds his own historical twist, naming the warrior’s enemy Jaguar Claw after famous 11th century Mixtec warrior king, Eight Deer Jaguar Claw. The spare, efficient text also incorporates words from the Náhuatl language, which would have been spoken during the time period in which the story is set. This seamless integration of cultural detail is supported by an extensive glossary.
Tonatiuh is also the book’s illustrator, and his images add layers to both the story and its setting. Done in rich jewel tones, they are lush and inviting, with people and animals drawn in profile, consistent with the visual style of Aztec codices. This choice is not only striking and unusual in children’s books but adds an additional layer of cultural nuance, such as the Aztec glyph for speech illustrating those with something to say.
Complete with an author’s note and bibliography, this lovely picture book will be an asset to the classroom, as well as a favorite bedtime story.
Turk, Evan. The Storyteller. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4814-3518-5
A beautifully designed picture book, The Storyteller reveals a world where stories are as vital to survival as water in the desert. The text is structured as tales within tales, each layer contributing to the whole like distinct threads in a hand-woven carpet. Several font colors are used to help young readers separate each story, while matching colors within the illustrations blend the stories into a harmonious whole. The author-illustrator's unique visual style creates a strong sense of place, embedding the text within its cultural context of Morocco.
Reminiscent of stories from The Thousand and One Nights, Evan Turk weaves a new, powerful multilayered story that calls attention to the continuing importance of storytellers in Moroccan culture and to the value of a strong oral culture in general. It reveals the power of community and the role of shared stories in unifying a people. It is also a compelling survival story, in which a child hero outwits a djinn and saves the day through the power of shared stories.
With an author’s note describing Moroccan storytelling traditions and bibliographic references, this delightful picture book will prompt classroom discussions and further exploration.
2015 Aesop Prize:
Preus, Margi. West of the Moon. New York: Amulet Books. 2014
Inspired by her Norwegian grandmother's journal and grounded in the folk tales collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe, Margi Preus has written an utterly unique story in which real life and folklore are intertwined. It is the story of Astri, whose mother is dead and father has immigrated to the United States to make his fortune, leaving her and her younger sister Greta at the mercy of a less than honest aunt. Astri is sold into service to the abusive farmer Svaalberd, whom she calls “the goat man.” When Svaalberd tells her his plan to marry her, Astri plots a daring escape for herself, her young sister, and the mysterious "spinning girl" she discovers living in Svaalberd’s storehouse. Astri's life with Svaalberd the goat man is miserable and dangerous; are the stories she tells an escape for her, or is she really living in a fairy tale? There are so many elements of Norwegian folklore in this book, yet when Astri is finally on a ship heading to the United States and meets people from her home valley who can tell her what really happened in her life, it doesn't take away from the mystery at all. On the contrary, it underscores the important role that stories play in people's lives. There are detailed notes on the history of immigration, Norwegian folklore, and medical conditions rife at the time that informed Preus's story.
Riordan, Rick. Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes. Illustrated by John Rocco. New York: Disney/Hyperion. 2015
Rick Riordan creates an entertaining and enlightening retelling of twelve famous Greek myths in language and cultural references that demonstrate his mastery of humor that appeals to children. Titles like “Psyche Ninjas a Box of Beauty Cream” and “Cyrene Punches a Lion” alongside gorgeous illustrations by John Rocco hook the reader at first glance. Percy Jackson, the book’s snarky teen narrator, constantly inserts his perspectives on the historic-mythic Greek culture found in the stories through reflective asides. Often just for entertainment value, his commentary also provides some cultural context to issues contemporary children may find problematic in the myths, like gender inequality or certain cultural practices. The stories, while sprinkled with references to contemporary pop culture (Justin Timberlake, anyone?), are also liberally dosed with hints of other myths, deities, and places that heighten the sense that these stories only scratch the surface of a much more expansive mythology. Indeed, while many young readers may encounter this book linked to the rest of Riordan’s body of work, we expect that many will also find it a compelling gateway leading them gleefully deeper into Greek mythology.
2015 Aesop Accolades
Bai, Gangu, Geetha, V. & Wolf, Gita. Tree Matters. Tara Books Private Limited. 2014
This book is about trees in the forest, as known by and appreciated by the indigenous Bhil people of western and central India. Illustrated by a famous Bhil artist, Gangu Bai, the text is drawn from her own oral narrative, collected and shaped by V. Geetha and Gita Wolf over an extended period. Brief thematic text breaks the book into sections that cover natural history, natural resources, mythology, religion, and the role the trees of the forest play in everyday life in the region inhabited by the Bhil people. Through Bai’s artwork readers gain insight into a culture that is most likely unfamiliar to many of us, through the lens of all things tree. The non-linear narrative combined with lively artwork makes Tree Matters a visually beautiful book with a strong environmental message about living close to and respecting the earth.
Aylesworth, Jim & McClintock Barbara. My Grandfather’s Coat. Scholastic Press. 2014.
Jim Ayelsworth weaves the story of his own grandfather, an émigré from eastern Europe into the well-known Yiddish folksong, “I Had a Little Overcoat.” This story of thrift and family follows a coat the author’s grandfather makes for his wedding. Over the years, the coat wears out and is refashioned into a smaller articles of clothing which in turn wear out. The cycle creates a narrative rhythm as the coat gets worn out and made into a jacket, the jacket gets worn out and made into a vest, the vest into a tie, the tie into a child’s toy, and so on until nothing is left. McClintock’s lovely and crisp illustrations carry the reader through the two-generation span of the book as focusing on small but poignant moments, allowing the text to stay simple and understated. The illustrations and text focus on a life well-lived, of things well used. Despite the dissolution central to the narrative of the story, a beautiful hope emerges from this tale. Mainly, that despite the inexorable passage of time and age, and despite the uncommon durability of the coat, it is stories, ephemeral and seemingly made of nothing at all, which are the most durable. Let us hang on to those!
Shaw, Stephanie. The Legend of the Beaver's Tail. Ann Arbor: Sleeping Bear Press. 2015
This is a simple retelling of an Ojibwe legend of how Beaver, so vain about his beautiful tail, chases away his friends who are tired of his endless primping and bragging. When his tail becomes flattened in an accident, Beaver sees the error of his ways and seeks to make amends with the other animals. Beaver becomes an integral part of an ecosystem that helps his friends, Deer, Bird, and Fish. This is a lovely story and the painted illustrations are naturalistic, but still expressive and delightful. The book includes notes not just on the legend, but on the beaver's role as a "keystone species" which helps create habitats that support many other species. As such, it is a valuable story both culturally and ecologically.
2014 Aesop Prize
Aesop Prize Winner:
Nunes, Shiho S. Chinese Fables: “The Dragon Slayer” and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom. Tokyo/Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8048-4152-8.
Chinese Fables: “The Dragon Slayer” and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom is a remarkable collection of 19 brief tales drawn from ancient and field-collected sources. These cautionary tales, known as yu-yen, are narratives with an underlying meaning. These unique tales, some dating back to the third and fourth century BCE, are well-suited to audiences from fourth grade through adult. While these stories impart a life-lesson of some sort, many are simultaneously imbued with humor.
Unlike some collections, which may suffer from dense, impenetrable texts, these delightful fables are highly accessible, yet demanding of the reader’s reflection. The ending of each fable is deliberately abrupt, forcing the reader to pause and grasp its full meaning. Each fable ends without spelling out the full implications of what just happened, trusting in the reader’s intelligence in participation as the full realization dawns. Some endings are very subtle; some set the stage for the “aha moment;” and some prompt full laughter. The sub-title of this book, Timeless Tales of Wisdom, is well-stated, for, despite their ancient origins, these fables provide lessons still valid in contemporary life, for example: “Everybody’s Talking About It!” (gossip), “Kwan-Yin, the Goddess of Mercy” (recognizing the value of the elderly), “A Small Gift” (even the smallest of dubious talents are important), “Cooking the Duck” (petty infighting ruins anticipated pleasure), “Scaring the Tigers” (even the powerful tiger can be deterred by an unlikely fear – fundraising); “The Dragon Slayer” (one’s ego can result in the lack of a meaningful job in life), “A Change of Fashion” (how a random trend can affect the market economy).
Author Shiho S. Nunes has provided impeccable sourcing of these tales. In the preface, she traces the development and writing of yu-yen through the centuries. She describes the brevity of the written versions, and shows how she has participated in the tradition by elaborating and bringing the tales to life. In the back matter, Nunes individually sources each individual tale by text and date.
Illustrator Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard has created artwork in harmony with the culture and moods of the tales. She has drawn inspiration from traditional Chinese art, imparting a sense of history and humor. She utilized natural materials, including ground tea powder, pressed leaves, and earth, creating pencil and wash images on bamboo rag paper. The illustrations, backgrounds, and font form a cohesive package, creating a cultural, artistic experience.
While this book stands on its own as a significant addition to the body of published folk literature, it also offers some practical uses in schools. During this difficult time in American education, when little time is allowed for anything other than prescribed curriculum, these short tales can be fitted into a busy school day for curricular uses. The most notable is during reading instruction; these short stories provide excellent examples for the strategy of inferring. Because the stories stop short of explaining their lessons, students can practice deriving inferences, as they discuss and realize what the stories are really about. Teachers can also incorporate these stories into the study of ancient cultures. In addition, these stories are perfect when teachers and counselors are seeking a story that will provide a good starting point for discussions of social skills, behavior, kindness, and respect.
Importantly, Nunes’ Chinese Fables brings to light heretofore unknown stories, each a small gem. The excellent tellings, the whimsical artwork, and the scholarly sourcing combine to create a holistic package, well-deserving of the 2014 Aesop Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature.
2014 Aesop Accolade #1 of 4:
Jules, Jacqueline. Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain. Bloomington, Indiana: Wisdom Tales Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-937786-20-5.
Never Say a Mean Word Again is a delightful yet thoughtful account of a young boy named Samuel whose father happens to be the vizier or Advisor. No one questions the Vizier’s advice because he is known for his wisdom. When young Samuel accidently bumps into Hamza, the tax collector’s son, Hamza hurls insults (Donkey Brain! Stupid! Look at what you did!) at Samuel. Illustrator Durga Yael Bernhard graphically displays sloshing purple lamb sauce cascading down Hamza’s tunic as evidence of the accidental collision.
The Vizier gives perplexing advice when Samuel asks if Hamza is to be punished. He instead informs Samuel he must “make sure Hamza never says a mean word to you again.” Samuel imagines tying a cloth around Hamza’s mouth and even training a monkey to sit on Hamza’s shoulders clamping his mouth shut.
Upon the next four page-turns, Samuel attempts a series of punishments. However, these “punishments” have the reverse effect because each attempt is taken as an act of kindness transforming them from strangers to friends. By simply interacting together, Samuel realizes that he is indeed following his father’s directive.
Each contemplation is brilliantly displayed using acrylics that capture tones fostering the story. During each encounter between the boys, the reader sees the boys acting like playmates rather than enemies, while the vizier is ever-present in the background. In addition to these light-hearted moments, throughout the text, the muted images of buildings, arches, and period attire capture the Moorish Spain of the story.
This story is inspired by a medieval legend that surrounds the life of Jewish poet Samuel Ha-Nagid. He was also a vizier or highest advisor in Muslim Granada, in Spain. A similar incident happened to the poet when Ha-Nagid was an adult. The author imagines what would happen if this had happened to his son. Still maintaining the essence of the tale, Jules is able to capture a story that can be used to address the topics of friendship, bullying, and conflict resolution. The book provides additional background on Ha-Nagid and even details how during the time of the poet, “The Golden Age of Spain,” Spain and Portugal welcomed Muslims and often respected them for their customs and cultural ideas.
At a time when bullying behavior is increasing and a need for discussing conflict is a necessity, this book is a welcomed addition to the classroom. Unlike some news headlines, the depiction of Muslims is positive and peaceful. The book is aimed for young audiences (ages 5 and up) but can easily be relevant in upper elementary. We all need resources that demonstrate the value of friendship and kind actions.
This book richly deserves the 2014 Aesop accolade for Children’s and Young Adult Literature serving as a testament to help children value kindness over anger.
2014 Aesop Accolade #2 of 4:
Levy, Debbie. We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song. New York: Disney Jump At the Sun, 2013. ISBN 978-142311954-8
We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song traces the history of what is, quite possibly, the most famous protest song in the world. This well-written narrative nonfiction, in picture book format, is accessible to children in grades 1-5, and in many ways, is written for people of all ages.
The narrative begins in the fields of the American South, where black slaves sang, “I’ll be all right some day.” Levy tells readers that although Civil War ended slavery, black Americans were not “truly free. Still they believed things would get better. Still they sang.”
Around 1945 “I will overcome” moved from the churches into the streets, as an anthem of striking factory workers. In the spirit of solidarity, they changed “I” to “We.” Eventually the song was brought to the Highlander Folk School, a center for organization, first around workers’ rights, then around civil rights. It was at Highlander that the song was picked up and polished by Zilphia Horton, Guy Carawan, and Pete Seeger into the song we know today.
Without sugarcoating the truth, Levy succinctly relates the history of African-Americans in the United States in a way that is age-appropriate and easy to understand. She highlights significant events – the lunch counter sit-ins and the 1963 March on Washington – and shows how singing and “We Shall Overcome” were integral parts of the Civil Rights Movement.
Levy then goes on to tell how the song has been embraced in other places where people struggle for freedom and equal rights: South Africa, India, China, the Middle East, and beyond. She shows its evolution to a song about peace. Her narrative ends in 2008, with the election of President Barack Obama, but she goes on to note that today people still struggle, and they still sing in protest.
The history of “We Shall Overcome” has been documented for children before, but not in a picture book format that makes it so accessible to younger children. We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song is engagingly illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Many of the illustrations are based on real photographs that can be found and shown to children after reading the book. The timeline showing the evolution of the song and explaining each of the illustrations is a valuable addition to the book, as are the source notes, links to listen to different versions of the song, and a bibliography for further reading.
The winter of 2013-14 saw two momentous losses, with the deaths of Nelson Mandela and Pete Seeger. We Shall Overcome: the Story of a Song fittingly gave a nod to both men within its pages that did not pass unnoticed by third graders with whom I shared this book.
Narrative nonfiction is taking center stage in schools these days, and this is an excellent addition to any collection.
2014 Aesop Accolade #3 of 4:
Montileaux, Donald. Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend. Pierre, SD: South Dakota State Historical Society Press. ISBN: 978-0-9852905-2-8
Donald Montileaux’s retelling of Tasunka introduces young people to the Lakota story of the horse and its importance to the Lakota people. A young warrior searching for game to feed his family followed strange tracks he discovered in the earth. Eventually, he came upon a herd of hundreds of amazing beautiful creatures that could run “as fast as the wind.”
After many weeks, he was able to capture and train some of these amazing horses and take them back to his home. The horses enabled the tribe to hunt and travel farther than before, making them wealthy, proud, and very powerful. The Great Spirit was saddened to see that one tribe selfishly used the horses while others were poor and hungry.
The Great Spirit took the gift away from the people for many centuries. Then one day a warrior saw a man riding an animal that he recognized from the stories of his elders and realized the animal must be the Tasunka or horse. It had arrived via the white settlers, and returned to the Lakota as a sign of the Great Spirit’s forgiveness.
Montileaux is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and a modern day storyteller. In the source notes, he explains that Elders passed the story down to him, and he attributed this particular version of the myth to Alex White Plume. Montileaux also addressed the importance of sharing oral stories with young people. “This history is important because it helps us know where we come from. These stories also preserve the truths and myths of our ancestors” The stories also have the potential to “make firelight twinkle in children’s eyes”.
Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend is a bilingual book with both English and Lakota text on the same pages. Agnes Gay, the assistant archivist at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota, translated the text to the Lakota language.
Montileaux used the beautiful ledger-art style of the Lakota culture to illustrate the book. With its many colorful details, the illustrations provide another dimension of traditional art to the story.
2014 Aesop Accolade #4 of 4:
Wolf, Gita. Gobble you up! Berkeley, CA: Publishers Group West: Tara Books, 2013. ISBN 978-81-923171-4-4
In this Rajasthani trickster tale, lazy Jackal tricks animals into getting him food, and then eats all the animals up as well, until he bursts. All of the newly freed animals go on their way, while the jackal goes in search of a tailor bird to stitch up his tummy. It ends on a cautionary note: “Watch out, watch out, tailor bird! This jackal’s wily, so we heard.” The story is told in cumulative rhyme.
The book is a work of art, from the illustrations to the binding. The stylized drawings are created by an artist named Sunita in the traditional finger-painting style called Mandna, which is passed down from mother to daughter. Indeed, she learned the art form from her mother and older sister. Each book is a numbered edition, silkscreened on specially made paper, then hand-bound. It even exudes the smell of the ink.
The book is a consummate example of folklore in many aspects. The book embodies traditional art that is passed on in the same way as the story is passed on. As children understand this, they can gain a broader view of the folk arts.
Gobble You Up! is an entertaining read-aloud, perfect for primary students. It is rich in vocabulary and could provide a springboard for a discussion of onomatopoeia. It could easily expand to a collaboration with the art teacher, with students finger-painting in the Mandna style. Teachers of older students may also find it useful as a starting point in exploring printmaking and handmade books in both historical and contemporary contexts.
Gobble You Up! is a fine example of traditional arts in many aspects: story, art, method of passing on the art technique, printing, and handmade book-making.
2013 Aesop Prize
Looks Like Daylight. Deborah Ellis. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2013
Looks Like Daylight is a collection of first-person accounts
of Native North American young people, documenting the challenges of living in
the parallel worlds of cultural tradition and twenty-first century pressures.
The stories are at once heartrending and inspiring, offering a very useful
anthology for young adults.
To compile the narratives in this
book, Deborah Ellis traveled around the continent of North America and
interviewed forty –five young people about their experiences growing up Native
American/Aboriginal. The narrators range in age from nine to eighteen years
old. Ellis gives a brief introduction to each of her subjects, and then allows
them each to tell their story in their own words.
The children do not shy away from
talking about the myriad social ills that plague so many of the indigenous
communities in the United States and Canada -- the high poverty, alcoholism,
drug abuse, and suicide rates, as well as the residual effects on families of
forced attendance at residential schools, and later the institutionalized
kidnapping of Native children to be placed into the white foster care system
– but remarkably, there is a strong undercurrent of hope
running through most of the interviews. Ellis makes it clear that, while some
of these young people have lives that are extremely difficult, they do not
intend to allow hardship to be their identity.
The children have found connection
through education and community involvement. For many of them this includes embracing cultural
traditions that have been maintained despite longstanding efforts to suppress
and eradicate indigenous culture throughout the United States and Canada. Many
of the youth are dancers. Others are learning their native language, practicing
traditional art forms, or hunting and gathering food in the old ways. They are
well versed in their heritage, but do not think for a minute that they are
going backward; their feet are firmly planted in the 21st century,
like 14-year old Tulane, who lives on the Navajo reservation and creates
traditional images using acrylic paints and Legos, or 12-year old Cuay who participates in the fastest-growing sport
on Native American reservations – skateboarding!
It is a lovely bit of synchronicity
that Looks Like Daylight was
published so close to the birth of the Idle No More indigenous people’s
movement. Both are celebrations of the
incredible diversity of North America’s aboriginal populations, and the
tenacity of the human spirit. As Cuay says, "I’m more Ojibway than American. The white Americans have
wanted to get rid of us for hundreds of years, but we’re still here.” I very
much look forward to a world where these young people come into their own.
2013 Aesop Accolades - 3 titles:
Rosanne. Written in Stone. New
York, New York, Random House, 2013.
At a time
when some middle school novels take a precursory approach to using folklore and
folktales in their work, it is refreshing to read Parry’s, Written in Stone. This work does not merely mention folk
customs in a non-descript way or speak generally of Native American legends,
instead this novel employs folk customs and folklore at its core.
The birth of
this story is attributed to her students on the Quinault Indian Reservation in
the Pacific Northwest. As a fifth-grade
teacher at Taholah Elementary, her students had asked why their story not
represented in books they read. This
work is her response.
"Already having suffered the loss of her
mother to the flu pandemic of 1918, Pearl tries to learn her mother’s skill as
a weaver, but lacks someone to guide her. The Makah come from a whaling
tradition which is faltering due to non-native whale hunters slaughtering many
whales. The latest whaling expedition ends in tragedy: armed only with a
harpoon and a canoe built for eight, the water violently takes Pearl’s father,
leaving her an orphan (although the Makah have no word for orphan).”
chronicles the story of a Makah orphan girl’s struggle to belong and be a
worthy contributor to the Makah tribe. The
Makah come from a whaling tradition although they are no longer around because
among other reasons non-native whale hunters slaughtered many of them. The latest whaling expedition left her
without a father. Armed only with a
harpoon and a canoe built for eight, the water violently takes him leaving Pearl
as an orphan (although the Makah have no word for orphan). As she struggles to contribute to the Makah
way of life, she tries weaving but she does not have a teacher. Her mother was a gifted weaver but she died
from flu pandemic in 1918.
At 13, she has
been accustomed to a position of high honor, but with the loss of her father,
the tides shift. The water no longer
brings whales and the Makah fight to survive.
The water brings poachers disguised as art admirers of the Makah’s
ceremonial garb, including masks, carvings and her father’s precious Raven
dress. The dress is in honor of the mythical trickster Raven.
clashes ensue as we witness Pearl Carver and her tribe tangle with white man’s
tomfoolery and outright lies. We see the
need for the community to transform from a whaling community to something
more. We hear the arguments for and
against change set against the backdrop of a deep appreciation for tradition
and culture. Parry shows the
manipulative methods to usurp the land by the White man. She speaks to past events where lands and
people were erased or had to move, but amidst this chaos there is reverence for
old ways, elders, and traditions such as honoring the creatures of the water
It is also a
story of becoming. At first young Pearl simply
pens the names of her family, but soon realizes it through words that she
preserves her tribe. She states, "I
could be the teller now. I could make
his life (her father) real. I could raise him out of the water with
are forced to change, people doubt and the Makah have their doubts about their
future. We see her strong-minded cousin straddling
the white and native worlds. We hear
racism when her family travels to sell clams, but we also witness the keen
bargaining strength of her grandfather.
Her Aunt Susi
plays a drum although women are not expected to in this Native community. Pearl answers
to another drummer. She plays until she
finds her voice. We also watch her
advocacy at thirteen grow when we see young Pearl as a grandmother. Using flashback we travel through time
witnessing her passion and strength enriching as she ages.
tribute to a people she admires in this narrative. Although it is a fictional account, there are
numerous references to the people, land, and customs. Perhaps the greatest tribute she provides is
a call for someone from the Native people to write a book that tells the story
from a native perspective.
will not only inspire more curiosity of the Native tribes in and around the Olympic
Peninsula, but also provide teachers a rich history of the Makah way of life.
Weulersse, Odile. Nasreddine. Illustrated by Rebecca
Dautremer. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013.
The gentle tale of Nasreddine
unfolds in an exquisitely illustrated picture book, offering its wisdom to
readers of all ages. The boy, Nasreddine, and his father work companionably to
bring their rural wares to market in the Middle East. The patient father allows
his son to learn in his own way, making this story one of those gems which
teach without being didactic. Tales of Nasreddine are based on a real Turkish
man who lived in the Middle Ages, and the tales continue to evolve throughout
the Middle East.
The episodic nature of Nasreddine
captures the rhythm and flow of life, and provides a recognizable pattern that
makes folktales so alluring to children. Four times, Nasreddine and his father,
Mustafa, set out for the city gate, loading their market items onto their
donkey. The problem arises when onlookers take note of the manner in which they
are traveling with their donkey, and voice their criticism of the boy and his
father. Each time, the sensitive son blushes, and tries to change things around
to avoid more embarrassment.
The first time, Mustafa rides upon the donkey, and
Nasreddine walks behind. A vizier decries the lazy father who tells lets his
son suffer in the mud. The next time, Nasreddine feigns a twisted ankle so that
he can ride while the father walks. A group of women remark that elders have no
respect anymore. The third time, Nasreddine suggest that they both ride, and
are subjected to disapproval for overloading the donkey. The last time, both
father and son walk next to the donkey, enduring the jeers of children. The
mortified Nasreddine tries one more time, suggesting that they carry the
donkey. That’s when Mustafa smiles and has a little talk with his son. Mustafa
leads his son to his own realization: "I understand! You can’t be afraid that
other people will judge you or make fun of you.”
The text and illustrations of Nasreddine evoke the atmosphere and setting of the Middle
East. Illustrator Rebecca Dautremer’s
palate of sienna, rust, and red set the mood in this arid setting. The somewhat
stylized drawings provide touches of authenticity in the clothing and
architecture. Details such as the boy’s drink of camel’s milk with cinnamon
provide a sense of regional smell and taste. Text and art marry, providing a
gentle yet distinct sense of character and place.
The language in Nasreddine
includes a pattern that sums up so much of what this tale is about. "As you
wish,” says the son to the father, and the father to the son. In so saying, the
boy shows his father respect, and in turn, the father indicates his wise
patience with his son, as the boy tries to puzzle out his discomfort and his predicament.
Each time Nasreddine tries out a new scenario with the donkey, the father says,
"as you wish,” allowing the boy to learn through experience. The father does
not dictate or judge; he lets the boy try it out for himself.
This ancient tale has much to offer the modern world. It
shows judgment for what it is: criticism from all corners, regardless of what
you do. It teaches us to look within ourselves, and find integrity.
Goldman, Judy. Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal
Folktales from Mexico.
Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2013.
Whiskers, Tails & Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico is a
collection of five tales representative of five distinct indigenous groups in
Mexico. Each tale is accompanied by a thorough narrative description of the
cultural group, including geographical, landform, and climate information, as
well as lifestyle and customs. Also included are a glossary for each tale,
multiple citations of source material, and a general bibliography. The tellings
are engaging, particularly for children in the middle elementary grades. One
full-page illustration introduces each story, and several smaller drawings are
interspersed with the background information on the regional people.
Whiskers, Tails &
Wings brings to light the astonishing variety in cultural groups that are
largely unknown by most of us. The author points out that, while many people
are familiar with the Aztecs and the Maya, there are sixty-two specific groups,
with many languages and traditions. Judy Goldman has chosen five of these: the
Tarahumara, the Seri, the Huichol, the Triqui, and the Tseltal. All five tales
are pourquoi tales, and trickster elements are also woven in. The stories
themselves are also unique; some are not easily found elsewhere in general
publication, thereby offering a unique addition to the body of folk literature
In the Tarahumara Tale, "When Senior Grillo Met Senor Puma,”
Puma declares war on Grillo (a cricket). While Puma drafts other fearsome
creatures, Grillo thinks up a crafty way to win: he enlists angry wasps,
waiting inside gourds. Since that time, crickets sing a victory song every
night. "Mosni’s Search,” a Seri creation tale, employs the earth-diver motif. The
god of creation asks the sea creatures to dive to the bottom of the sea and
bring up sand. After several animals are unsuccessful, Mosni the sea turtle
brings up a few grains of sand, which become the land, and she is the first to
walk upon it. "Tlacuache’s Tail,” from
the Huichol, is the story of why Possum’s tail is hairless, and also about the
coming of fire. In "Ouch!” from the Triqui people, the God of Creation makes
fleas, which cause lazy Man and Woman to get up off their backs and do work in
the world. "Pokok Up High,” from the Tseltal people, explains why frogs have
flat bodies: Pokok the frog takes a ride on Buzzard’s back, but complains about
the stench, and gets himself thrown off the flight. Spirited characters and
humor enliven the tales.
Goldman’s love of Mexico’s rich heritage shines through in
every aspect of this collection. The background material demonstrates the
uniqueness of each region, and there is an underlying sense of honor for each cultural
group. The tellings reflect playfulness and well-drawn characterization. Whiskers, Tails & Wings is a welcome
addition to published folklore for children.
2012 Aesop Prize
Which Side Are You On? By George Ella Lyon, illustrated by
Christopher Cardinale. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 2011.
The urgency and bravery described in Which Side Are You On is at once both historic and contemporary.
This picture book recounts the desperate circumstances that prompted the
writing of a pivotal song of the labor movement in Kentucky in 1931. Author
George Ella Lyon, and illustrator Christopher Cardinale, do a masterful job of
portraying the historic setting and the unsung heroes of the coal miners’
strikes in the 1920’s and 30’s. And yet, by bringing this era into sharper
focus, Lyon and Cardinale bring the realization that folk song is ever relevant
in contemporary society. This book showcases a classic example of folk song,
while simultaneously providing the context in which this song for social change
took root. Social unrest, and the desire for justice, provide fertile ground
for the flourishing of folk music as the voice of the oppressed. By describing
the development of this song, Lyon and Cardinale remind us of its relevance
This is mainly the story of how Florence Reece wrote the
song, "Which Side Are You On,” during one terrifying night, when the "gun thugs”
(hired by the mine owners) were firing bullets into her home. Reece’s daughter
narrates the scene, describing the way her six brothers and sisters cowered
under the bed. Reece had gotten word to her husband (a mine worker and union
organizer) not to return home, and to hide out. Amidst the questions bursting
from the children under the bed, Ma tells them, "This ain’t easy, but sometimes
you’ve got to take a stand.”
But this book is so much more than the story of Ma writing
the song on the back of a calendar page, riveting though it is. The narrative
simultaneously weaves three main threads into a cohesive flow: the unfolding
plot in Reece’s home, background information on miners, and the lyrics of the
song. Using an economy of words, Lyon imparts a surprising amount of
information, in a child’s language. Readers learn about the grueling work of a
miner, the meaning of a "company town,” payment in "scrip,” the meaning of a
strike and a scab, and the reason a union is needed to set things right. The
song lyrics visually swirl on intermittent pages.
The extensive author’s note provides even more information
on the history, as well as reflections on folk music and the folk process, then
and now. Cardinale, an accomplished cartoonist, achieves a style of
illustration that captures the rough-hewn quality of the setting, evocative of
woodcuts. Illustrations and text work cohesively to portray a mood, not only of
the violence, but of the resolve and love and solidarity of the family and the
Visualize the scene: Disenfranchised by those in power, the
common people rise up to face their oppressors. These brave souls are armed
with a powerful tool: the rousing refrains of a song. The music stirs their
hearts and feeds their spirits, as they gather in strength and resolve. Does
this scenario sound familiar? We hear about such uprisings and rallies on the
news frequently. The use of folk song as a vehicle for righteousness is
grounded in history, and those songs, old and new, still ring out today. Lyon
and Cardinale have crafted a book that reminds us of that.
2012 Aesop Accolades
Burkert, Rand. Mouse
& Lion. Illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. New York: Michael di
When we teach children about folklore, it is essential to
help them understand that as tales are passed on from person to person, they
are changed by each storyteller. In retelling a traditional tale, orally or in
writing, the storyteller applies his or her own personal style and creates a
new version to be enjoyed by listeners and readers. If done well, the "old”
tale is rejuvenated, yet maintains the timelessness of all good stories.
In Mouse and Lion,
a version of the familiar Aesop fable, Rand Burkert achieves this in several
ways. First by giving the mouse character top billing, as he notes in his
afterword " . . . Mouse clearly performs the lion’s share of the work.” In
Mouse, Burkert has created a lovable and comical character full of pluck. He
moves the story right along with his scampering and frenetic thinking as he
persuades Lion to spare him. Lion is as amused by this lovable creature as we
are and so allows his journey, as well as the story, to continue. Burkert
defines the two characters with very few words within the first few pages,
continuing with wonderfully easy pacing. A lovely, Zen-like ending showcasing
Lion’s new appreciation of small creatures replaces the standard moral we
usually find at the end of many interpretations of Aesop’s fables. Burkert has
also made the tale unique by setting the story in the Aha Hills, bordering
Botswana and Namibia, a habitat where the African mouse, lions and baobab trees
are found together. Perhaps what comes through most clearly in Burkert’s
version of the fable is his reverence for animal wisdom, something he credits
to Aesop: " . . . a composite of many of our responsible ancestors”. This is
the tradition he carries on, while at the same time creating a new tale to take
its place among other versions.
Nancy Ekholm Burkert, one of the most accomplished
children’s book illustrators of our time, certainly doesn’t disappoint with
this, her latest masterpiece. Her exquisite attention to detail is nothing
short of breathtaking. She has rendered every hair, whisker and blade of grass
with purpose and grace. Pale blue renderings of Mouse working hard at chewing
through the rope trap cleverly depict just how long the little mouse had to
work to free Lion. Her final double page spread is a beautiful interpretation
of Lion’s newfound appreciation of his tiniest subjects. In the illustrator’s
note we learn about the extensive research that went into her artwork. Her
acknowledgements credit a full cast of researchers and experts, including the
indigenous peoples of the region, who helped her study not only the physical
characteristics of her starring character, the African grass mouse, but also
its lifestyle, habits and natural environment. Such extensive information about
the research that goes into the illustrations of a children’s book is a rare
treat, indeed. With the tremendous amount of care Nancy Ekkholm Burkert put
into this work, her illustrations are as significant an interpretation of the
fable as is the text. Together this mother and son team has crafted a
masterpiece of storytelling.
Walters, Eric. The Matatu. Illustrated by Eva Campbell.
Victoria, BC: Orca 2012.
The Matatu journeys
through contemporary Kenya, guided by a wise Grandfather who recounts in
picture book form a sometimes humorous, sometimes contemplative tale to his five-year-old
grandson, Kioko. As readers, we climb aboard this wonderful, traditional public
bus-like vehicle called The Matatu with Kioko and as it travels, we experience
the rich story. For his fifth birthday, Kioko’s grandfather, who is an elder, a
teller of stories, and a father to 11 children and grandfather to 37 takes
Kioko on the Matutu. Because
the Matutu moves at a slow pace, and in order to pass time, his grandfather
tells a story. The story begins when Kioko asks why dogs are following the
vehicle. The grandfather, part humorist, part wisdom keeper reveals the answer
through his rich tale-telling ability.
We learn early that Kioko is a
literal-minded thinker. This is clearly evident with the surprise ending that
Walters uses to show how deeply Kioko was listening to the tale. Walters uses
the dialogue between the grandfather and grandson to invite readers to
experience both the trek of the Matatu and the folktale. Specifically, his revealing tale speaks
to the issue of justice and fairness. The grandfather, in his own pace, shares
why dogs chase the Matatu. But young Kioko questions the story that serves to
be an anchor point for an on-going dialogue between the two. Each passenger
also listens to the grandfather’s story because he tells it with power
recognized as an elder storyteller. Walters creates a travelogue of this
journey and reminds us the Matatu mirrors life. As he notes, "both (the rider
and the tale) are a journey filled with bumps, dust, unexpected turns, and
risks. The story’s secret is to sit back and enjoy the ride.” And enjoy it we
Set in East Africa, the earth-rich
oil paintings of sunny Kenyan villages by Campbell mirror the trip as she
outlines the human journey. Each page is illustrated in rural images, peppered
with goats and chickens riding on top of the Matatu. However, as the tale is
revealed the animals take on anamorphic form. The animals are painted in a
humorous almost cartoon style. This deliberately helps separate the time
between telling of the tale and riding in the vehicle.
Like an old folktale, each
traveler on The Matatu is wiser for taking the ride. There is a delightful mix
of folktale, urban legend, and real time tales. The conversation between
grandfather and grandson is lively and upbeat. The grandfather takes on the
mantle of a learned storyteller as he teaches his grandson an urban tale. The
source note reveals the author was recently made an honorary member of the
Kamba tribe. With the honor told in this tale, we have a hint as to why.
P. Walking on Earth & Touching the
Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School.
Illustrated by S.D. Nelson. New York: Abrams, 2012.
This book reads like a finely
woven tapestry. Each poem and
painting visually portrays a rich narrative of what life is like for current
youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The artwork by S. D. Nelson draws
the readers immediately to the images. The rich paintings, mostly acrylics,
from Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, are stunning. As he
notes, "For my Lakota people, the spirit world is as real as the physical
world. We humans can touch both…” His paintings ask the viewer to grasp the
world he is painting. Whether it is a Lakota form of dance such as a "thunder
dance” or the captivating image of the defeated Indian entitled End of the
Trail, each image is powerful. The bold and bright colors are reflective and
the captions underneath help mark the time in Lakota history.
These rich images are echoed by
the diverse poetry inscribed by fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight grade students
from the Red Cloud Indian School, housed on a reservation in South Dakota. The
editor McLaughlin notes, times at this school can be "difficult and complex.”
We witness this as we read the poetry of the young students who show their
wisdom through the language of the verse. As noted in the introduction, "The
Lakota People, like many native tribes, have an intricate and fascinating
history.” This is revealed through
the students’ poetry covering such topics as the natural world, the misery
displayed by some Lakota and the value of silence and the spirit. Still we also
hear of the dreams of these youth in poems such as, "Still I dream” by poet
Chanelle Douville and "Dreams of the Babies” by Stephanie Sully. The poems
range in subject matter. There are personal poems about feeling wanted such as
Rayleen Bickerstaff’s "Still I’m Loved” to faith poems about the existence of
God in Anna Diaz’s "Vision of God.” Read as a collection these poems share a
powerful current story of life on the reservation.
The author details how it took
time to build a safe place for these students to express themselves, but once
they did, "…the students engaged with writing, their creative voices appeared
and began to mature.” It is
sometimes heartbreaking to hear about the trials and troubles of these youth,
but other times, reassuring when one reads the maturity of their thoughts and
vision in poetic form. Reading these poems displays an acute awareness of life
on the reservation. Most of all, these poems come from authentic sources and
display a vibrant sense of honesty as they are read.
Holding the poems and the images
together is the editor’s rich commentary. As Sincangu Lakota Joseph Marshall
notes in the forward, "too many times we grownups overlook the feeling and
opinions of youth…” This book
accentuates their voice. The commentary serves to set the tone for the poems
Too often teachers use older texts
to teach about Native Americans.
However, this anthology illustrates current ways of life from a youthful
perspective. The voices are alive. They are powerful reminders of current and
past practices and beliefs of the Lakota. Educators and librarians will find
this book a useful and viable resource to keep in their collections.
2011 Aesop Prize
Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection. Edited by
Matt Dembicki. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books, 2010.
When comic artist Matt Dembicki discovered that the world had never seen a graphic novel collection of Native American trickster tales, he set off on a complicated but rewarding road to make one.
2011 Aesop Accolades
In Trickster, the richness of the Native American oral storytelling tradition comes to life in all its complexity. Clever, foolish, mischievous, hapless, vain, vengeful, silly, or sacred—the trickster can occupy one or all of the roles simultaneously. In this collection, well-known tricksters like Coyote, Rabbit, Raven, and Raccoon make their appearances in various guises along with less well-known figures like Moshup, Puapualenalena, and the Yehasuri. A wide variety of comic art styles meld with compelling text to tell these tales in a fresh way: there is something here for a reader learning of Native American trickster tales for the first time, as well as a reader that is well-acquainted with many of the stories already.
Tricksters are never quite what they seem to be. Neither is this book. On the surface a creative and energetic rendering of numerous tales in an entertaining and novel format, it is commendable. Yet it is in the process of creation that this book truly shines as a cultural resource. Editor and artist Matt Dembicki recognized early on that trickster stories come from distinct Native cultural traditions, so he set out to find storytellers and artists with whom he could collaborate. All the tales in the book come from Native storytellers deeply invested in their cultural heritage and its preservation. The storytellers themselves selected the artists that they wished to represent their stories from a group assembled by Dembicki, and the artistic and representational process was collaborative throughout the adaptation of each story into its sequential graphic presentation. The success of this approach preserves to a great extent the voice of the storytellers within their stories, and gives the artists a chance to show their skill at adapting their unique styles to that of their storyteller. Each story comes from a distinct cultural tradition, among them Muscogee, Abenaki, Hawaiian, Diné, Pueblo, Caddo, Cowlitz, Catawba, Blackfeet, Ioway/Otoe, S’Klallam, Ojibwe, Athabascan Nation, Penobscot Nation, Wampanoag, Choctaw, Winnebago, Cherokee, and The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. Yet credit is given where credit is due: each tale has an author and an artist. Both work together to create a book that has the power to speak without words, that can be read aloud and still have the power of the storytelling event, and together make a powerful and compelling resource for cultural heritage and cross-cultural understanding.
The Queen of Folk. By Stephen Alcorn and Samantha Thornhill. New York:
This powerful and adaptable children’s book, whose cover is reminiscent of a sixties album cover, can be used as a starting point to address the influence of Odetta’s music as well to help the world discuss difficult issues, especially the civil rights movement.
Odetta’s journey as a folk singer and her struggle to release her beautiful voice to the world is vividly depicted. Like a bird trapped in its cage, the visual narrative carries the reader through Odetta’s struggle with the constraints of poverty, Jim Crow Laws, and racism. Stark images are revealed on each page, from black men and women picking cotton under a backdrop of light to blue rushing water fountains with white letters boldly, almost threateningly, glaring "Whites only.” The visual landscape is accompanied by a historical travelogue in the form of a poem by Samantha Thornhill.
These images and words do not simply tell Odetta’s story, but also poignantly express through a child’s voice the unknown questions of why. Young Odetta shares she is neither black or white, but brown, and the water that pours forth is neither color. She uses the image of her piano to express her confusion. She struggles as she plays the piano and conveys that she will visit her dream later, "her great big dreams that she could make black keys and white keys work together to create AWESOME sound.”
The story tells of Odetta’s life journey to find and use this sound. Like a folk song, this poetic biography also tells of the release from her constraints: Odetta’s move to Los Angeles where she finds her voice, sips from any water fountain she desires, and releases her metaphoric songbird to the world.
The poem and images pay tribute to gospel music, civil rights protests, and the rise of folk music. This Queen of Folk is painted less like a biographical figure, but more like a folk hero reaching the acclaim of someone such as High John the Conqueror. However, the stark difference is that her story is one that can be chronicled by historical time. Her accomplishments are treated as though they could be legend. Her sound still reverberates in many performers and protesters around the world. Alcorn’s visual account of her story and Thornhill’s poetic narrative are trumpet calls to the world to learn and listen to this female song bird, who played a guitar named Baby, and as her notes played whole movements heard it.
Alcorn clearly admired the work of Odetta, which is detailed in his reference notes called, "Ode to Odetta.” It appears he was able to garner the story from Odetta as a key source. However, the visual texts also chronicle the story and can be used as vivid sources to her journey. Children can also listen to Odetta’s work by checking out the included discography. The book and images are appropriate for grades 3 to 6 but could also be used as a secondary text addressing folk music or the civil rights movement.
This book invites children to journey to a time in history. This poem and the images will help them address what happened and why Odetta struggled and eventually earned the title of the Queen of Folk.
The Arabian Nights. By Wafa’
Tarnowska, Illustrated by Carole Hénaff. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books, 2010.
What better way to demonstrate the power of story than with the tales of The Arabian Nights told by the talented storyteller Shahrazade? She was so gifted as a teller of tales, in fact, that not only was she able to save her own life, but also to transform a brutally violent man into a patient and kindhearted husband and father. Having been betrayed by his first wife, the Persian King Shahriyar not only murdered both the queen and her lover, but also decided no woman was worthy of his trust. Nevertheless, he came to find himself lonely without a mate and decided to marry a new bride each day and have her executed the next morning. No one but the courageous Shahrazade, the vizier’s daughter, was able to put an end to the king’s madness. Each night Shahrazade told another tale to Shahriyar, each one leading into the next, whetting his appetite for more.
Of course the storyteller is actually Wafa’ Tarnowska, whose translations of these tales full of magic and fantasy feature fast pacing that carries the reader right along with Shahrazade’s voice as she leads the shah through nightly adventures. Just as he can’t get enough of her stories, young readers will be unable to put the book down. The first story is "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” one that is already quite familiar. In this version, Aladdin’s good fortune lies not only in his luck in obtaining a magic lamp with a genie, but also in having a loving mother who is willing to take great risks for her son. Along with the recurring themes of magic, good fortune, and love at first sight, each of the eight stories also deals with familial love and devotion. This is how Shahrazade eventually transforms her spiteful husband into a loving one.
Complimenting the text are Carol Hénaff’s vibrant acrylic paintings. With a striking cover portrait of Shahrazade, the reader knows right from the start that this book is a work of art. All parts of the book, including the endpapers and the table of contents are lusciously illustrated and creatively designed. Each new story begins with a colorful full-page illustration and the book is enhanced throughout with lovely borders and artwork reminiscent of the Middle East.
In her introduction Wafa’ Tarnowska provides a clear sense of the impressive history of the fables, tales and adventure stories that comprise The Arabian Nights, or The Thousand and One Nights. The tales were collected over several centuries, the oldest manuscript dating back to the early 800s. The sources used include a fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript containing some three hundred tales, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. But most impressive of Tarnowska’s sources is her own grandmother, from whom she heard the stories as a girl growing up in Lebanon. She explains how her grandmother held much in common with the brave heroines of her tales. She was the daughter of a village sheikh and sold all of her jewelry and her own dowry to provide an education for her children and running water for her family. This beautifully crafted volume is rich in oral tradition, ancient literature, and the stuff of which good folklore is made.
It’s Not About the Rose! By Veronika
Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra
It’s Not About the Crumbs! By Veronika
Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra
It’s Not About the Pumpkin! By Veronika
Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra
It’s Not About the Hunter! By Veronika
Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra
It’s Not About the Apple! By Veronika
Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra
By learning that the same stories have been told throughout history across many cultures, children can begin to feel a connection to the people of different nations. This is a message that rings true in this series of easy reader books that feature cross-cultural versions of folk and fairy tales familiar to all children. Each volume presents three different versions of a story told by three culturally diverse characters, Jake, Ben, and Lily. In It’s Not About the Rose!, Jake tells the European story of "Beauty and the Beast.” Ben is then reminded of the Indonesian version of this story he knows as "The Lizard.” Lily finally tells her story, based on the Norwegian folktale, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” In It’s Not About the Crumbs!, the three friends compare three different versions of Hansel and Gretel tales. It’s Not About the Pumpkin! features Cinderella stories from Europe, India, and China. The children compare versions of Little Red Riding Hood in It’s Not About the Hunter!, and Snow White stories from Greece, Armenia, and Italy are the subjects in It’s Not About the Apple!
These beginning-level books are presented in a format inviting to young readers, including the comic style illustrations of David Parkins. Each book cover shows the three main characters expressively sharing their stories, inviting the reader to join the group. The children compare the stories in familiar venues such as the park or at school, demonstrating how folklore can be part of a child’s everyday life.
Perhaps the best aspect of the series is that it includes folklore in the repertoire of first literature available to young readers. As children grow and mature they will find that folk and fairy tales form the base of much of the body of literature they will be reading. The committee would like to commend the publisher and author for this project that brings folklore into the realm of early reading literature and at the same time works in support of cultural consciousness.
2010 Aesop Prize
Joha Makes a Wish: A Middle Eastern Tale. Adapted by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan. Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010.
Joha Makes a Wish is a delightful tale that
features Joha, a wise fool known throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Storyteller Eric Kimmel, who has
written more than eighty children’s books, brings his own special wit to this
version. Omar Rayyan’s humorous
and highly expressive watercolor illustrations make the storyline of this
picture book an excellent choice for parents to share with the beginning
booklover/reader as well as appealing to older readers. Joha’s amusing personality and the
situational comedy of this tale is magnified with the animated detail of
Rayyan’s paintings. As a familiar
character in Middle Eastern folklore, it is possible that Miguel de Cervantes,
the author of Don Quixote based the
character of Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s squire and faithful companion, on
Joha. In Joha Makes a Wish, Joha acquires a wishing stick that responds to
the wishes of the person who holds it.
He faces numerous challenges and bad luck before he learns how to
control the stick’s power. A
kindly shopkeeper saves Joha, and explains that he has been holding the stick
upside down while making his wishes, which has resulted in the opposite coming
true. Ultimately, Joha must surrender the stick to a greedy sultan, who is left
to figure the secret out for himself.
Joha Makes a Wish was inspired by "The
Answered Prayer,” a tale from Yemen.
2010 Aesop Accolades
Cloud Tea Monkeys. By Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. Candlewick Press, 2009.
storytellers Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham continue to weave their magic in this
reissue of their 1999 book, newly illustrated by Juan Wijngaard.
rich cultural detail from India reflected in the illustrations and the
narrative, we meet Tashi, the daughter of a woman who picks tea for a
frightening and unpleasant overseer. She passes her days while her mother
works, earning the trust of the disliked monkeys who descend daily upon the tea
plantation. When her mother falls terribly ill, Tashi tries to pick tea in her
mother’s place and earn the needed money for a doctor, but she fails, unable to
handle the large, heavy basket and even reach high enough to pick the proper
leaves. Powerless in the face of poverty, circumstance, and despair, she tells
the only friends she has who can listen—the monkeys. To her shock and dismay,
they steal her mother’s basket, but later return it to her filled with strange
and fragrant tea leaves. Tashi is vindicated for her kindness in the face of
the overseer when she drags the basket back, only to find that the plantation
is being paid a visit by the Royal Tea Taster, who seeks, and then finds, the
"most magical and delicious tea in the world.”
illustrator and artist Juan Wijngaard makes this beautiful, compelling
narrative sing. Full color plates intersperse text peppered with ink sketches
that bring realistic character to Tashi and her surroundings. The glances
exchanged between the Royal Tea Taster and the little girl reveal the dynamic
interplay between the wisdom of someone who has seen (and tasted) it all, the
hesitation of a child possessing an extraordinary gift, and the arrogant,
creepy overseer who doesn’t get it, and never will.
and Graham acknowledge the inspiration for their tale as coming from many
stories involving monkeys and tea from the Himalayas, incorporating relevant
cultural detail, which folds naturally into the narrative.
Firebird. Retold by Saviour Pirotta, illustrated by Catherine Hyde. Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2010.
retelling of the classic tale of the Firebird celebrates the centennial of the
first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet version of the story by the
world-renowned Ballet Russes. Saviour Pirotta draws inspiration from several
different versions of the tale as he presents the quest of Prince Ivan, who is
determined to take on the challenge of his father, the king, where his two
older brothers have failed. In pursuit of the firebird that has been seen
stealing apples from the king’s tree, the young prince faces a variety of
challenges. With the aid of a magical wolf he achieves his goal, gains the
respect of the king and the love of a beautiful princess along the way.
storytelling is simple yet compelling and allows the magic of the tale to
entice the reader to follow along on Prince Ivan’s journey. It is the
illustrations, however, that make this book a work of art. Catherine Hyde’s
luminous acrylic paintings have a dreamlike feeling and softness that enhance
the fairy tale quality of the story. At the same time she brings a contemporary
freshness to the piece with her creative compositions, and skilled use of color
and texture. By using gold and copper leaf as accents, she brings the firebird
to life on the cover as well as in a vibrant two-page spread at the end of the
story. A title for each painting is displayed beside each illustration
throughout as well as in a key at the end of the book. This will help young
readers understand that every illustration in a picture book is a complete work
of art. As one Aesop committee member noted "This one won’t be a dusty one on
2009 Aesop Prize
Nana, Dance (Baila, Nana, Baila). By Joe Hayes,
Illustrated by Mauricio Trenard Sayago. Cinco Puntos Press, 2008.
This colorful bilingual anthology of thirteen Cuban folktales has
sabor, the flavor of the Caribbean, bringing the rich mixture of
Spanish, African, and American influences to his readers. Cuban
folkloric wisdom and wit fill these pages. There is a rhythmic quality
to the linguistic expression in both the English and Spanish narratives,
reminiscent of the importance of rhythm in the Cuban way of life. The
title tale celebrates the central role of music on this Caribbean
island. Twin boys play drums and sing, while a sorceress cannot help
but dance until she is exhausted, enabling the boys to capture fire and
bring it to the people. In The Gift (El Regalo), Hayes retells a
patakí, a teaching tale about the Orishas, or the holy ones of Santería,
which is the Afro-Cuban religion. Obbara, the most humble of the
Orishas, is acknowledged for his ability to reveal the true worth of
whatever gifts one receives in life, even if it is concealed in
something that appears to have no value.
Joe Hayes based his retelling of the tales on manuscripts Cuban
storyteller and musicologist Martha Esquinazi generously shared with
him. His delivery exhibits his subtle sensibility and warmth for the
people and folklore of Cuba, opening the way for cultural understanding
to his audience. Whether in Spanish or English, the storytelling is
engaging. Because the texts in the two languages are remarkably
parallel, they render reading the tales a bilingual learning experience.
This consistency in expression encourages language learners to acquire
new phrases as well as new cultural perspectives.
The illustrations by Cuban-born Mauricio Trenard Sayago, not only
reflect the influence of the folk art of his native island, but also add
potency to messages of the tales. The dynamic images convey his
profound belief in the power of art and its ability to educate and
transform the individual and society.
Kalevala: Tales of Magic and Adventure. Adapted by
Kirsti Mäkinen. Illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. Translated by
Kaarina Brooks. Simply Read Books, 2009.
The Kalevala, the national epic poem of Finland, is presented in a
hefty, lavishly illustrated prose narrative of twenty chapters,
interspersed with poetic sidebars providing a more literal sense of the
poetic form of the original. The narrative structure closely follows
the fifty cantos, or runes, of Elias Lönnrot’s 1849 edition, which he
pieced together from thousands of variant folk poems into a single epic
format. This new prose edition, translated from the Finnish, makes the
classic work available to a new generation of English-speaking older
children and young adults, recommended for ages 10 and up. The richly
detailed illustrations draw heavily on authentic artifacts of
traditional Finnish material culture to give visual clarity to
unfamiliar details of the tale.
The epic begins with the creation of the world from water and air,
and then soon moves to the birth of Väinämöinen, shamanistic singer and
magic worker, and his part in shaping the land. Väinämöinen’s later
exploits dominate a major portion of the epic, including singing duels
and magic challenges, his unsuccessful searches for a bride, and his
friendship and rivalry with the great smith Ilmarinen, who forges the
magic Sampo, a mill that grinds endless riches of flour, salt, and
wealth as a bride-gift for Louhi, mother of the beautiful maid of
Pohjola. Intermingled are tales of other heroes, wonders, and
tragedies. This version is far more extensive than the 1996 Aaron
Shepard poetic retelling in picture book format, The Maiden of the
Northland: a Hero Tale of Finland, itself recognized with an
Accolade, which more narrowly focuses on the making of the Sampo and
Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen’s rivalry.
Although its influence in Scandinavian literature is widespread, The
Kalevala may be less well known to many English-speaking readers than
classic works of Greek, Roman or Norse mythology or the epic poetry of
Homer or Beowulf, but its impact on modern fantasy is significant. An
important source for J. R. R. Tolkien, this retelling will appeal to
readers (or viewers) of The Lord of the Rings and especially the
Silmarillion, which stylistically resembles The Kalevala. The
sometimes-dramatic, sometimes-prosaic illustrations make it more
accessible than other recent translations to a visually oriented
audience who may be intrigued by the northern European roots of the high
fantasy tradition. Mäkinen, Surojegin, and Brooks are to be commended
for filling a significant gap in Scandinavian folklore retold in English
for older juvenile and young adult readers.
By Nona Beamer. Illustrated by Caren Ke’ala
Loebel-Fried. Translation from the Hawai’ian by Kaliko Beamer-Trapp.
Music by Keola Beamer. Bishop Museum Press, 2008. (Includes audio CD).
Nona Beamer, an iconic figure of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance,
skillfully retells the locally well-known legend of Naupaka, artfully
enhanced by Caren Loebel-Fried’s stunning block print illustrations.
The picture book, presented bilingually with parallel English and
Hawaiian texts on the same page, tells of two lovers kept apart by the
rigid strictures of traditional pre-contact Hawaiian social structure.
Naupaka, a princess or member of the ruling ali’i class, falls in love
with a commoner, Kau’i. Her parents tell her to consult the kúpuna, the
village elders, to determine the lovers’ fate. They refer the decision
to a distant kahuna, a religious leader, who defers to the judgment of
the gods. When a lightning bolt signals that the lovers must be parted,
they sorrowfully concur, with Naupaka remaining in the mountains and
Kau’i returning to the seashore. The tale is told to explain the origin
of two varieties of scaveola, a flowering plant known in Hawai’i as
naupaka. An indigenous variety grows on the coast, in Hawai’i and
elsewhere, while the mountainous variety is endemic, found only in
Hawai’i. Each bears a white half-blossom, signifying the parting of the
"Auntie" Nona, who died last year, learned Hawaiian oral tradition
and dance from her grandmother. She was a member of the Beamer family,
known for their extensive role in keeping Hawaiian culture alive during
generations when it was suppressed. Cited as &educator, composer,
storyteller, chanter, kumu hula, cultural expert and matriarch of one of
Hawaii's most beloved musical families," she won the Pacific Business
News’s Gladys Kamakakuokalani Ainoa Brandt Kupuna Award in 2008.
Naupaka, released shortly after her death, reflects her care not only in
retelling the story, but in providing cultural context, botanical
details and sources for further research. Artist Lobel-Fried, herself a
storyteller, has retold and illustrated several works of Hawaiian
legend, often with Auntie Nona as collaborator. She states that her
"intention and greatest challenge as an artist and reteller is to give
voice to the legends while remaining true to the source." Her
distinctive visual style succeeds admirably. Noted slack-key guitarist
Keola Beamer provides a musical background to his mother’s reading of
the Naupaka story on an enclosed CD, taken from their 1997 CD collection
of stories, The Golden Lehua Tree.
2009 Aesop Accolades
Barefoot Book of Earth Tales. By Dawn Casey.
Illustrated by Anne Wilson. Barefoot Books, 2009.
British storyteller Dawn Casey delights us in presenting a highly
approachable book that inspires readers to appreciate more fully the
world around them and marvel at the multicultural stories and legends
that shed such wisdom on environmental themes. Casey has chosen for this
anthology seven classic multicultural tales, retelling them in a
refreshing and detailed way that fully engages the audience in the
characters and action, her skill as an oral storyteller shining through
on the printed page. These carefully chosen stories are presented with
brief introductions that shed light on the tales’ cultural origins and
the point of learning, or moral, of the featured story. Readers will be
inspired by the celebration of earth’s wonders by reading an Australian
Aboriginal creation story, an Indian legend of the original tree
huggers, a Nigerian cautionary tale about the dangers of greed, and a
cumulative story from Bali in which Gecko learns the value of the
interconnectedness of all the creatures in the web of life. The book
includes five other stories with equally thought-provoking points to
ponder. As a bonus, Casey has included instructions for a creative
project for each tale, highlighting the wisdom of the stories and
providing a hands-on opportunity for young listeners to explore their
ideas further through painting, planting, cooking and crafts.
Anne Wilson’s colorful and creative illustrations bring a greater
imagery to the tales and for each story shows in playful fashion the
cultural origin and notions of the colors, dress, flora and fauna that
are a part of the folklore. Each page is filled with color in the
borders, backgrounds and whimsical designs. Wilson’s contribution of
collaged paper and acrylic artwork deliver a marvelously attractive
production punch that will assure the popularity of this book in schools
and homes on both sides of the Atlantic.
Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns as told by Orville Hicks.
Transcription and text by Julia Taylor Ebel. Illustrated by Sherry
Jenkins Jensen. Parkway Publishers, Inc. 2009.
In this second volume of Orville Hicks stories from the Appalachian
Mountains, Julia Taylor Ebel captures the enticingly natural and
compelling style of this celebrated traditional storyteller. Hicks,
recipient of the North Carolina Heritage Award in 2007, follows in the
footsteps of a family rich in the oral storytelling tradition, his tales
inspired by his mother Sarah’s many tellings and those of his second
cousin, Ray Hicks, among many others in the Beech Mountain region. In
this collection of personal and retold tales from Hicks, his words have
been carefully transcribed from recordings of his oral tellings. His
straightforward style and cadence of telling is cleverly captured in the
layout of text in this anthology, giving the reader a greater sense of
his vocal rhythm and audience connection. Readers will find themselves
sensing that they are sitting on the front porch with Hicks, listening
to the memories, songs and misadventures of his youth, tall tales wound
with truth, and the rollicking escapades of the cunning Jack in his
unique retellings of many popular Appalachian Jack tales.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the art of traditional
storytelling will learn much from this volume, not only from the manner
in which the stories are told but also from the descriptions of Hicks’
life influenced by the storytelling tradition of the Appalachian
Mountains. The stories will certainly prove to be popular with young
listeners as the transcriptions offer an outstanding read-aloud
opportunity. In addition, this volume includes a glossary of regional
speech found in Hicks’ tales, notes for research and discussion for
educators and delightful graphite illustrations by Sherry Jenkins Jensen
to accompany the stories.
Folktales and Folklore. By Michal Malinowski and
Anne Pellowski. Libraries Unlimited, 2009.
Polish Folktales and Folklore
offers an intriguing invitation
to explore a variety of Polish traditions including recipes, children’s
games, riddles and, of course, folktales of many sorts. Included are
local legends, animal tales, magic tales, humorous tales, why tales,
religious tales, and supernatural creatures. The Fool Who Searched for
Fear is a particularly humorous rendition of a familiar tale-type in
which the protagonist succeeds because he is oblivious to dangerous
circumstances. Janosik tells of a Polish character whose reputation
resembles Robin Hood. Photographs in black-and-white and color
complement the text. Many prints of Polish-style paper cuts adorn pages
throughout the book. With excellent explanatory notes prefacing the
work and detailed source notes and bibliography the book underpins
entertainment with scholarship.
This book captures the style of Polish storyteller Malinowski who
first rendered the tales into English. The stories were then polished by
Pellowski, a Wisconsin-born native English speaker and storyteller.
This collaboration presents the Polish teller’s narrative style in
everyday English while maintaining a distinctly Polish lilt. A section
on storytelling in Poland draws upon Malinowski’s professional work as
director of the Storyteller Museum in Konstantin-Jezinora near Warsaw
and includes a brief survey of historical work and contemporary
storytelling in Poland. A dip into these pages offers experiences of a
world enriched by long historical memory and lively imagination.
Peacock, Tales from the Other Peoples of China. By
Haiwang Yuan. World Folklore Series, Libraries Unlimited, 2008.
This well-organized and richly documented volume is designed to give
the American reader a fair view of China as a multi-ethic nation of
diverse cultures. It offers a sample of one well-known tale from each of
the fifty-five Chinese ethnic minorities, each one being introduced by a
brief description of the group of origin in order to establish greater
awareness of the cultural context. The volume begins with an overview of
the Chinese ethnicities, presenting peoples, their languages, their
dwellings, clothing, religions, customs, festivals, performing arts,
fine arts, literature and storytelling. A variety of recipes for
traditional dishes, games and crafts are described in a manner that
encourages the reader to explore. The tales are divided into animal
tales, moral tales, tales of deities, immortals, and legendary figures,
magic tales, tales of love and romance, tales of creation and ethnic
origins, tales of how thing came to be, and legends about places. While
Liu Sanjie, A Fearless Folk Song Singer reflects a historical period
when the dominant Han culture oppressed ethnic minorities, Forty Girls,
Seven Brothers, and Princess Wencheng reveal times of ethnic harmony
and peaceful coexistence. The title tale is a tale of love and magic
that pulls the reader’s heartstrings regardless of one’s ethnic
identity. A section of color photographs depict folk dress and customs.
Black-and-white drawings are interspersed with the tales. The
appendices, which are geared to the interests of academicians, include
detailed information on the motifs and tale sources, as well as a list
of Chinese national minorities. These are followed by a glossary,
references, and an index.
Author Haiwang Yuan, a professor and the Web Site and Virtual Library
Coordinator in the Department of Library Public Services at Western
Kentucky University, is a native of China and an American citizen.
Princess Peacock, Tales from the Other Peoples of China is intended as a
companion to The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han
Chinese (2006), both World Folklore Series anthologies. In these fine
books, Professor Yuan brings a highly informed outlook to a broad
readership. He displays his devotion to his own cultural heritage and
his commitment to scholarship, in a manner that is accessible,
informative and intelligent. The tales in this anthology have been
selected for their suitability for young readers, but may be enjoyed by
the culturally inquisitive reader, young and old alike. The contents of
Princess Peacock provide extremely valuable material for the families
of the many Chinese children adopted by Americans by introducing and
reinforcing knowledge of their ethnic origins. This collection of tales
is designed to entice readers to explore a civilization that is
ancient, mystic, profound and most importantly, incredibly diverse.
By Kimiko Kajikawa. Illustrated by Ed Young.
Phiomel Books, 2009.
Tsunami! is Kimiko Kajikawa
and Ed Young’s brilliant
realization of a Japanese story of an elder’s extraordinary sacrifice to
save his village. While the people of his village are gathered at the
coast for a festival, a wealthy farmer has chosen to remain on higher
ground, tending his fields. He sees a tsunami approaching and warns
them the only way he can, by setting his crops on fire, thereby saving
lives but losing his livelihood. He is honored in Japanese legend for
This large-format picture book is based on Lafcadio Hearn’s
late-nineteenth century re-telling of the story of Hamaguchi Gohei of
Kishu province. Kajikawa’s spare text cuts to the essence of this
gripping tale and Young’s intricate collages provide both illustrative
force and engaging detail that encourage the reader to linger at each
page. In thirty-two thrilling pages Kajikawa and Young distill this
story to its thought-provoking essence.
2009 Special Recognition
The 2009 Aesop Award Committee would like to give special recognition
to Libraries Unlimited for their scholarly efforts in compiling the
comprehensive World Folklore Series. The Advisory Committee members,
Simon Bronner, Joseph Bruchac, Natalie Kononenko, Norma Livo, and
Margaret Read MacDonald, have overseen this series which currently
consists of thirty-six titles, many of which offer in-depth collections
from cultures whose folklore is not otherwise readily available. This
year five anthologies, Lao Folktales,
Polish Folktales and Folklore,
Princess Peacock: Tales from
the Other Peoples of China, and The
Singing Top: Tales from
Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, were submitted, two of which
received Accolades. From the Winds of
Manguito: Cuban Folktales in
English and Spanish received a Prize in 2005, and Brazilian
Folktales received an Accolade in 2006. As a whole, the World
Folklore Series is a decidedly valuable contribution to American
2008 Aesop Prize
Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My
Quest to Find the Real John Henry.
Scott Reynolds Nelson, with Marc Aronson. National Geographic, 2008.
2008 Aesop Accolades
Dance in a Buffalo Skull.
Told by Zitkala-Ša. Illustrated by
S. D. Nelson. Prairie Tales Series, no. 2. South Dakota State
Historical Society Press, 2007.
The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and
Other Appalachian Folktales.
Anne Shelby. Illustrated by Paula McArdle. University of North
Carolina Press, 2007.
2007 Aesop Prize
Lugalbanda: The Boy Who
Got Caught Up In a War.
Told by Kathy Henderson. Illustrated by Jane Ray. Candlewick, 2006.
The Legend of Hong Kil
Dong: the Robin Hood of Korea.
Retold by Anne Sibley O'Brien. Charlesbridge, 2006.
2007 Aesop Accolades
Solomon and the Ant and
Other Jewish Folktales.
Retold by Sheldon Oberman. Introduction and commentary by Peninnah
Schram. Boyds Mills Press, 2006.
Tatanka and the Lakota
People: A Creation Story.
Illustrated by Donald F. Montileaux. South Dakota State Historical
2006 Aesop Prize
Malian's Song. By
Marge Bruchac, illustrated by
William Maughan. Middlebury, Vermont: Vermont Folklife Center, 2005.
Outfoxing Fear: Folktales From
Around the World. Edited by
Kathleen Ragan. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
2006 Aesop Accolades
Chál tó yinílo‘: Frog Brings
Rain. By Patricia Hruby
Powell. Flagstaff, Arizona: Salina Bookshelf,
Brazilian Folktales. By
Livia de Almeida and Ana Portella,
edited by Margaret Read MacDonald. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries
2005 Aesop Prize
From the Winds of Manguito:
Cuban Folktales in English and
Spanish. Retold by Elvia Pérez.
Edited by Margaret Read MacDonald. Translated by Paula Martin.
Illustrated by VÍctor Francisco Hernández Mora.
Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
Roy Makes a Car. By
Mary E. Lyons. Illustrated by
Terry Widener. New York: Atheneum, 2005.
2005 Aesop Accolades
The Flying Canoe.
Retold by Roch Carrier. Translated
by Sheila Fischman. Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Tundra Books, 2004.
Grandma Lena's Big Ol'
Turnip. By Denia Lewis Hester.
Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic. Morton Grove,
Illinois: Albert Whitman and Company, 2005.
The Minister's Daughter. By Julie Hearn. New York and
2004 Aesop Prize
Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful
Signs: A Treasury of Islamic
Wisdom for Children and Parents. Collected and adapted
by Sarah Conover and Freda Crane. Illustrated by Valerie
Wahl. Spokane, Washington: Eastern Washington University Press,
The Magic Gourd.
Written and illustrated by Baba
Wagué Diakité. New York: Scholastic Press, 2003.
2004 Aesop Accolades
Creative World of Grandma Prisbrey.
Written by Melissa Eskridge Slaymaker. Illustrated
by Julie Paschkis. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.
The Painted Wall and
Other Strange Tales. Selected
and adapted by Michael Bedard from the Liao-Chai of Pu Sung-ling.
Toronto: Tundra Books, 2003.
Sure as Sunrise: Stories
of Bruh Rabbit & His
Walkin’ Talkin’ Friends. Written by Alice McGill.
Illustrated by Don Tate. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Walking on Solid Ground.
By Shu Pui Cheung, Shuyuan
Li, Aaron Chau and Deborah Wei. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Folklore
2003 Aesop Prize
Horse Hooves and Chicken
Feet: Mexican Folktales.
Selected by Neil Philip. Illustrated by Jacqueline Mair. New
York: Clarion Books, 2003.
Mightier Than the Sword:
World Folktales for Strong
Boys. Collected and told by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Raul
Colon. San Diego: Silver Whistle/ Harcourt, Inc., 2003.
2003 Aesop Accolades
Jewish Tales of Angels, Spirits,
and Demons. Retold by Howard Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen
Fieser. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Nelson Mandela’s Favorite
[written and illustrated by various hands] New York: W. W.
Pajaro Verde: The Green
Bird. By Joe Hayes,
illustrated by Antonio Castro L. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos, 2002.
Something for Nothing.
By Ann Redisch Stampler,
illustrated by Jacqueline M. Cohen. New York: Clarion Books, 2003.
The Sun, the Rain, and
the Apple Seed: A Novel of
Johnny Appleseed's Life. By Lynda Durrant. New York: Clarion
Yonder Mountain: A
Cherokee Legend. Told by Robert
H. Bushyhead, written by Kay Thorpe Bannon, illustrated by Kristina
Rodana. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002.
2002 Aesop Prize
Can You Guess My Name?
Traditional Tales Around the
World. Selected and retold by Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Stefano
Vitale. Clarion Books, 2002.
One Time Dog Market at
Buda and Other Hungarian
Folktales. Translated and retold by Irma Molnér. Illustrations by
Georgeta-Elena Enesel. Linnet Books, 2001.
2002 Aesop Accolades
Head, Body, Legs: A Story
from Liberia. Retold by
Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert. Illustrated by Julie Pashkis.
Henry Holt, 2002.
The Race of the
Birkebeiners. Written by Lise
Lunge-Larsen. Illustrated by Mary Azarian. Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
Folk Tales That Inspired the
Bard. Retold by Patrick Ryan. Illustrated by James Mayhew.
Barefoot Books, 2001.
2001 Aesop Prize
Celebrating Women in Mexican Folktale.
Retold by Mary-Joan Gerson. Illustrated by Maya Christina
Gonzalez. Barefoot Books, 2001.
2001 Aesop Accolades
Mabela the Clever.
Retold by Margaret Read
MacDonald. Illustrated by Tim Coffey. Albert Whitman, 2001.
Daisy and the Doll.
By Michael Medearis and
Angela Shelf Medearis. Paintings by Larry Johnson. Vermont Folklife
2000 Aesop Prize
The Day the Rabbi
Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of
Magic. Text by Howard Schwartz. Illustrations by Monique
Passicot. Viking, 2000.
2000 Aesop Accolades
The Hunter: A Chinese
Folktale. Text by Mary
Casanova. Illustrations by Ed Young. Atheneum, 2000.
In the Hollow of Your
Hand: Slave Lullabies. Text by
Alice McGill. Illustrations by Michael Cummings. Houghton,
Stockings of Buttermilk:
American Folktales. Text by
Neil Philip. Illustrations by Jacqueline Mair. Clarion, 1999.
1999 Aesop Prize
King Solomon And His
Magic Ring. Text by Elie
Wiesel. Illustrations by Mark Podwal. Greenwillow, 1999.
Trickster And The
Fainting Birds. Text by Howard
Norman. Illustrations by Tom Pohrt. Harcourt Brace, 1999.
1999 Aesop Accolades
The Deetkatoo: Native
American Stories About Little
People. Text by John Bierhorst. Illustrations by Ron Hilbert
Coy. William Morrow, 1998.
The Donkey And The Rock.
Text and illustrations by
Demi. Henry Holt, 1999.
The Hatseller And The
Monkeys. Text and
illustrations by Baba Wagu? Diakit?. Scholastic, 1999.
Why Leopard Has Spots:
Dan Stories From Liberia.
Text by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert. Illustrations by
Ashley Bryan. Fulcrum, 1998.
1998 Aesop Prize:
Echoes Of The Elders: The
Stories And Paintings Of Chief
Lelooska. Text and illustrations by Chief Lelooska. DK
Publishing, Inc., 1997.
1998 Aesop Accolades:
The Girl Who Dreamed Only
Geese And Other Tales Of The
Far North. Text by Howard Norman. Illustrations by Leo
and Diane Dillon. Harcourt Brace, 1997.
The Hatmaker's Sign: A
Story By Benjamin Franklin.
Text by Candace Fleming. Illustrations by Robert Andrew Parker.
The Legend Of The White
Buffalo Woman. Text and
illustrations by Paul Goble. National Geographic Society, 1998.
Moments: Tales From Latin
America. English and Spanish texts by Olga Loya. August House,
1997 Aesop Prize:
Earth Tales From Around
The World. Text by Michael
J. Caduto. Illustrations by Adelaide Murphy Tyrol. Fulcrum,
The Hired Hand: An
African-American Folktale. Text
by Robert D. San Souci. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. Dial
Books for Young Readers, 1997.
1997 Aesop Accolades:
Bouki Dances The Kokioko:
A Comical Tale From Haiti.
Text by Diane Wolkstein. Illustrations by Jesse Sweetwater.
Harcourt Brace, 1997.
The Cricket's Cage: A
Chinese Folktale. Text and
illustrations by Stefan Czernecki. Hyperion, 1997.
Text by Diane Wolkstein.
Illustrations by Juan Wijngaard. Morrow Junior Books, 1996.
Full Moon Stories:
Thirteen Native American Legends. Text
and illustrations by Eagle Walking Turtle. Hyperion,
Musicians Of The Sun. Text
and illustrations by
Gerald McDermott. Simon & Schuster, 1997.
The Sea King's Daughter: A
Russian Legend. Text by
Aaron Shepard. Illustrations by Gennady Spirin. Atheneum, 1997.
1996 Aesop Prize:
Next Year In Jerusalem. Text
by Howard Schwartz.
Illustrations by Neil Waldman. Viking, 1996.
Nursery Tales Around The
World. Text by Judy Sierra.
Illustrations by Stefano Vitale. Clarion, 1996.
1996 Aesop Accolades:
The Biggest Frog In
Australia. Text and
illustrations by Susan L. Roth. Simon and Schuster, 1996.
The Maiden Of the
Northland: A Hero Tale Of Finland. Text
by Aaron Shepard. Illustrations by Carol Schwartz.
Text by Alma Flor Ada.
Illustrations by Kim Howard. Doubleday, 1996.
Mysterious Tales Of
Japan. Text by Rafe Martin.
Illustrations by Tatsuro Kiuchi. G.P. Putnam, 1996.
Princess Florecita And
The Iron Shoes. Text by John
Warren Stewig. Illustrations by K. Wendy Propp. Apple Soup
Songs For Survival: Songs
And Chants From Tribal Peoples
Around The World. Compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith. Illustrations
by Bernard Lodge. Dutton, 1995.
The Story Of The Milky
Way: A Cherokee Tale. Text by
Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross. Illustrations by Virginia
A. Stroud. Dial, 1995.
The Turkey Girl. Text
by Penny Pollock.
Illustrations by Ed Young. Little Brown, 1996.
When The World Was Young:
Creation And Pourquoi Tales. Text
by Margaret Mayo. Illustrations by Louise Brierley.
Simon and Schuster, 1995.
Wicked Jack. Text
by Connie N. Wooldridge.
Illustrations by Will Hillenbrand. Holiday House, 1995.
The Woman In The Moon: A
Story From Hawai'i. Text by
Jama Kim Rattagan. Illustrations by Carla Golembe. Little
Brown Canada, 1996.
1995 Aesop Prize:
Fair Is Fair: World
Folktales Of Justice. Text by
Sharon Creeden. August House, 1994.
1995 Aesop Accolades:
Coyote And The Winnowing
Birds: A Traditional Hopi Tale.
Based On a Story Told By Eugene Sekaquaptewa. Translated
by Emory Sekaquaptewa and Barbara Pepper and illustrated
by Hopi children. Clear Light, 1994.
Duppy Talk: West Indian
Tales Of Magic And Mystery.
Text by Gerald Hausman. Simon and Schuster, 1994.
Giants! Stories From
Around The World. Text by Paul
Robert Walker. Illustrations by James Bernardin. Harcourt
The Gifts Of Wali Dad: A
Tale Of India And Pakistan.
Text by Aaron Shepard. Illustrations by Daniel San Souci.
When The World Ended, How
Hummingbird Got Fire, How
People Were Made: Rumsien Ohlone Stories. Text and illustrations
by Linda Yamane. Oyate, 1995.
Why Alligator Hates Dog: A
Cajun Folktale. Text by
J.J. Reneaux. Illustrations by Donnie Lee Green. August House,
1994 Aesop Prize:
John Henry. Text
by Julius Lester. Illustrations by
Jerry Pinkney. Dial, 1994.
1994 Aesop Accolades:
Baba Yaga: A Russian
Folktale. Text and
illustrations by Katya Arnold. North-South, 1993.
The Bossy Gallito. Text
by Lucia M. Gonzalez.
Illustrations by Lulu Delacre. Scholastic, 1994.
Christopher: The Holy
Giant. Text and illustrations
by Tomie de Paola. Holiday House, 1994.
Coyote And Little Turtle:
A Traditional Hopi Tale.
Told by Herschel Talashoema and illustrated by Hopi children
of the Hotevilla-Bacavi Community School. Translated and
edited by Emory Sekaquaptewa and Barbara Pepper. Clear Light,
The Girl Who Wanted To
Hunt: A Siberian Tale. Text
by Emery Bernhard. Illustrations by Durga Bernhard. Holiday
The Magic Storysinger
From The Finnish Epic Tale
Kalevala. Text and illustrations by M.E.A. McNeil. Stemmer House,
The Mummer's Song.
Text by Bud Davidge.
Illustrations by Ian Wallace. Afterword by Kevin Major. Douglas &
Shadow Of A Flying Bird: A
Legend Of The Kurdistani
Jews. Text and illustrations by Mordecai Gerstein. Hyperion,
1993 Aesop Prize:
This was the first year in which Aesop Accolades
were awarded. Two books shared the Aesop Prize:
Cut From The Same
Cloth: American Women In Myth,
Legend, And Tall Tale. Text by Robert D. San Souci. Illustrations
by Brian Pinkney. Philomel, 1993.
Love Flute. Text
and illustrations by Paul Goble.
1993 Aesop Accolades:
Big Men, Big Country: A
Collection Of American Tall
Tales. Text by Robert Paul Walker. Illustrations by James
Bernardin. Harcourt Brace, 1993.
The Green Gourd: A North
Carolina Folktale. Text by
C.W. Hunter. Illustrations by Tony Griego. G.P. Putnam, 1992.
Ishi's Tale Of Lizard.
Text by Leanne Hinton.
Illustrations by Susan L. Roth. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1992.
Northern Lights: The
Soccer Trails. Text by Michael
Arvaarluk Kusugak. Illustrations by Vladyana Krykorka. Annick
Sundiata: Lion King Of
Mali. Text and illustrations
by David Wisniewski. Clarion, 1993.
Surtsey: The Newest Place
On Earth. Text by Kathryn
Lasky. Photographs by Christopher G. Knight. Hyperion, 1992.
In 1992, the first year of the Aesop Award, two books
shared the prize:
Aesop And Company With
Scenes From His Legendary Life.
Text by Barbara Bader. Illustrations by Arthur Geisert.
Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
Days Of Awe: Stories For
Rosh Hashanah And Yom Kippur.
Text by Eric A. Kimmel. Illustrations by Erika Weihs. Viking,