|Aesop Prize and Aesop Accolades|
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
Please submit a copy of each nominated title to each
committee member. Aesop Prize Committee members for 2014 are:
Aesop Award and Accolade Recipients
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:
Parry, 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).”
She 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.
Culture 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 and drumming.
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 words.”
When cultures 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.
Parry pays 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.
This story 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 for children.
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 today.
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 union.
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 Capua/Scholastic, 2011.
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 do.
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.
McLaughlin, Timothy 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 being discussed.
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.
Odetta: The Queen of Folk. By Stephen Alcorn and Samantha Thornhill. New York: Scholastic. 2010
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.
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.
It’s Not About the Rose! By Veronika Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2010.
It’s Not About the Crumbs! By Veronika Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2010.
It’s Not About the Pumpkin! By Veronika Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2010.
It’s Not About the Hunter! By Veronika Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2010.
It’s Not About the Apple! By Veronika Martenova Charles, Illustrated by David Parkins. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2010.
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!
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.
Much-beloved storytellers Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham continue to weave their magic in this reissue of their 1999 book, newly illustrated by Juan Wijngaard.
With 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.”
Experienced 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.
Peet 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.
This 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.
Pirotta’s 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 the shelf.”
2009 Aesop Prize
Dance, 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.
The 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 Aesop 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.
Naupaka. 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 lovers.
"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
The 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.
Polish 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.
Princess 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.
Tsunami! 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 his sacrifice.
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, Mongolian 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 folklore scholarship.
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 Press, 2006.
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, 2006.
Brazilian Folktales. By Livia de Almeida and Ana Portella, edited by Margaret Read MacDonald. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
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 London: Atheneum, 2005.
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, 2004.
The Magic Gourd. Written and illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité. New York: Scholastic Press, 2003.
2004 Aesop Accolades
Bottle Houses:The 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 Project, 2004.
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
Invisible Kingdoms: Jewish Tales of Angels, Spirits, and Demons. Retold by Howard Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Fieser. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales. [written and illustrated by various hands] New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.
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 Books, 2003.
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.
Shakespeare's Storybook: Folk Tales That Inspired the Bard. Retold by Patrick Ryan. Illustrated by James Mayhew. Barefoot Books, 2001.
2001 Aesop Prize
Fiesta Feminina. 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 Center, 2001.
12/12/2014 » 12/14/2014
International Conference: Sacrifice, Ordeal, Divination
1/8/2015 » 1/11/2015
130th MLA Annual Convention
1/29/2015 » 1/30/2015
IMISCOE Research Group TRANSMIG