September Books: Folk Tales & Fairy Tales

By on September 9, 2014

by Meribeth C. Shank

Although your child is back in school, s/he still needs you to read to her/him at home. Your child will do better in school, and you’ll both enjoy the time spent together.

Little Red Hot

Books-redhotby Eric A. Kimmel, illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith.

Once again, award-winning author Kimmel returns to retelling a favorite folk tale with a Texas twang. The addition of hot chili peppers makes this an especially playful version of the familiar Grandma and Wolf tale. Red wears a suitably colored sombrero and Granny knows when to race for help, in spite of being down with a bad cold. Meanwhile, the wolf tastes a wedge of hot pepper pie so spicy he shoots out of Granny’s house “like a rocket.” Pecos Bill and the cowboys arrive too late to help out. Although invited, they aren’t brave enough to join Red and Grandma for pepper pie supper. Huliska-Beith combines gouache, acrylic, and colored pencil in collage on computer. She uses southwest colors and a careful mix of white space with full and double-page spreads. Text and paintings are a lively match. Two Lions, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Grade 1-3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:


Books-tugofwarby John Burningham.

Although Hare, Hippopotamus and Elephant live together in the forest, Hippopotamus and Elephant are not always nice to Hare. When Hare gets tired of the disrespect he thinks up a plan to trick both of them.He visits each one separately and challenges them to a tug-o-war. At first they think it’s a joke, but finally each one agrees to the contest. Hare hides between Elephant, who lives in the forest, and Hippo, who lives in the river, and pulls on the rope. Hippo feels the tug and begins to pull. Elephant is “amazed at the strength of Hare.”  Award-winning author/illustrator Burningham re-imagines this African folktale from an earlier version retold by Letty Schatz. Deep greens and blues that change to red keep young readers interested. The two bulky animals continue to pull through twilight and sunset.  The bright moon rises and sets. Hare watches while Elephant and Hippo pull “all night long.”   When the two pull close enough to realize they have been tricked, Hare is long gone. He may not be as strong, but Hare is “much more clever.” This vigorous tale uses both strong language and peppy illustrations to appeal to young listeners and their adults. Candlewick, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

The Crocodile and the Scorpion

Books-crocodileby Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley.

Crocodile and scorpion are not the smartest of creatures. But each lives peacefully alone.In spite of his small brain Scorpion knows he can’t cross the river without help. He asks crocodile for a ride.  Lazy crocodile wonders, “Have you no friends” to help? Both recognize that stinging or biting, makes it hard to be friends. Promising not to hurt each other, the two agree to cross the river. The scorpion leaps on the crocodile’s back. But scorpion cannot restrain himself. A splashy battle and fighting words send both to the bottom of the river where “you can hear them…still.”Cut-paper illustrations in brilliantly contrasting colors– blue river, green crocodile, purple scorpion–grab attention and intensify the text. Double page spreads sizzle with jaunty text and brisk rushing illustrations. This father-daughter team pairs their talents once again to create a picture book tale that snaps with energy. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Here are a few more titles to enjoy!

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat. Putnam, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 3

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton, illustrated by Nick Wragg. Putnam, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Kindergarten–Grade 3

Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Valeria Docampo. Dial, $16.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten–Grade 2

Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Ayano Imai. MinEdition, $17.99 (hardcover) Interest Level: Pre Kindergarten–Grade 3 (This book is available to purchase from Books & Books online:

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web:

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