Fairytale Basics: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Actually, I think The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a fable, but we’re grouping it under fairytales for now. Although most of the students know the story, and the meaning of the phrase ‘to cry wolf’, I only own one version of the story.

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This retelling by B.G. Hennessy is just the basic story where the shepherd boy repeatedly calls for help when a wolf threatens his flock. Except of course, it’s a lie, a ruse to drum up excitement and eventually it comes back to haunt him when a real wolf comes to call. The kids liked the pictures in this version a lot! The bored shepherd is drawn picking his nose and try to teach his sheep to play blind man’s bluff.  There is also an odd bird-thing with a human-like face and a Pinocchio nose.  That stumped us. We loved the surprise at the end where the boy is search for his sheep, and we assume that they have been eaten by the wolves, but in reality, they have climbed a tree and are safe and sound.

The funny version I read with the first grade to reinforce the story’s message is The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman.

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This little wolf, with a jaunty cap that makes me think of Jughead, is sick of eating the same old thing.  He wants something better, something like boy! Little Wolf cries boy to get his parents to come running, hoping to catch the boy for a gourmet meal.  As. expected, this backfires when a troop of Boy Scouts actually comes into the woods. One even wanders into the wolves’ cave and makes himself comfortable, but Mama and Papa Wolf are so frustrated with their son that they won’t even look.

There are quite a few versions out that look like they would be worth buying for the school collection.

I have the Gail Carson Levine Betsy books on my list, and I like Alex Latimer’s books. I’m super frustrated because I know that I own The Fish Who Cried Boy but I can’t find it on my shelves.

Just to make you giggle, I found a Garfield and Friends version here.

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I also discovered that Pinkfong has some fable videos out.  I need to dig deeper into their YouTube channel.  We love their phonics videos and dinosaur stories in kindergarten.

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And just cause, I find this sort of thing amusing:

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Telling Tall Tales: John Henry

The most important thing I need in order to do my job is have a voice.  Well, I’ve caught a cold and I’m worried about my voice making it through a busy day tomorrow (7 classes before noon with 15 minutes of reading each.)  I’m honestly worried about letting my students down.  I really want to read John Henry to my second grade students, but for me to survive the rest of the week, I’m going to need to go to Plan B.

 

I own these great versions of John’s story, I like that the Julius Lester retelling has Jerry Pinkney’s artwork, and I didn’t realize that Ezra Jack Keats did illustrations too.  I did decide to order a DVD with Disney’s animated short of John Henry.

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It’s not here yet, and the full version of John’s story isn’t on YouTube — the videos on there cut it off about a minute before the ending!

Well, thanks to my inability to just give up, I stumbled on a great article about John Henry and the article mentioned that there is a Disney Short Film collection available on Netflix with John Henry in it.  I logged in to Netflix, checked the collection, and now I’m the happiest librarian in town!!

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If you haven’t seen the film, you really should, this is one story Disney got right.  It’s introduced by James Earl Jones, and narrated by Alfre Woodard.  The quilt theme makes me think of the of the the freedom quilts made by slaves. The singing style is like listening to a gospel choir, which makes me think of southern churches. I don’t want to sound like I’m making stereotypes, but both make me think of the African American culture and everything that culture has added to the American culture. It’s a story I can read, but I don’t know if I could give the overall feeling like the animation does.

Honestly, I don’t think I have enough books about John Henry.  The kids are intrigued by the idea that he could have been a real man.  There are multiple theories about who he was, but no matter what the truth is, the folklore that has grown around John Henry’s name has surpassed the need for a real person to fill his shoes. I’d like to get a few more titles for my collection, and these look like the type the kids would want:

 

Fairytale Basics: Jack and the Beanstalk

We are quickly running out of time at the end of our school year, it’s crazy! But I still have time to read a few more fairytales with the first grade.  Today we read Jack and the Beanstalk retold by Steven Kellogg.

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The kids liked this story a lot! Of course it helps a lot that Kellogg’s illustrations are outstanding.  There is always so much to see on his pages. One of the things we noticed that the Princess on the title page has a big white great dane that looks like Pinkerton from Kellogg’s hilarious series.  I’ve seen Pinkerton in so many of his books lately that I wonder if he’s in all of them….I need to research that more.  But, back to Jack.  In this version, there is no giant.  Instead, the people living at the top of the beanstalk are very tall and the man is an ogre.

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He’s quite ferocious. Otherwise, we agreed that this is the basic Jack story, though some of the kids didn’t realize that he stole from the giant or ogre three times.  We have quite a few versions of the story in the library, from traditional to graphic novel and fractured fairytales.

I know that I have more than this, but these are the ones that I was the most familiar with.  The Thief and the Beanstalk was a great retelling, where it isn’t the original Jack going back up the beanstalk to right the wrongs that his forerunner committed.

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Liesel Shurtliff’s story is tied to Rump, the true story of Rumpelstiltskin, in that the beanstalk leads Jack to a world of giants — the world where Rump lives. It’s a fresh mix on the story, where Jack is determined to rescue his father from the giants with the hinderance or help of his little sister in tow.

Shelly Duvall’s video series

I am so excited because I have found the perfect video series to supplement the Fairytales and Tall Tales I read with the kids! You may remember (if you’re old like me), an early cable tv series called Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Classics.

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This series was a gem! It’s packed with big-name celebrities and covers all of the basic stories we know and love, plus a few extra.  The episodes include:

The Frog Princess
Rumpelstiltskin
Rapunzel
The Nightengale
Sleeping Beauty
Jack & the Beanstalk
Little Red Riding Hood
Hansel and Gretel
Goldilocks & the Three Bears
The Princess and the Pea
Pinocchio
Thumbelina
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Beauty and the Beast
The Boy Who Left Home To Find Out About the Shivers
The Three Little Pigs
The Snow Queen
The Pied Piper of Hamlin
Cinderella
Puss In Boots
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
The Princess Who Never Laughed
Rip Van Winkle
The Little Mermaid
The Dancing Princesses

That’s a huge list! I’m not familiar with all of them, but for $28, I’ll buy the set and use it in class.  There were some spin-off series and I picked up the Tall Tales & Legends as well.

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This series didn’t come all as a set (the picture from Google did though.) I was able to get all but the last episode. Here’s the list:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Annie Oakley
Pecos Bill

Casey at Bat
Darlin’ Clementine
Johnny Appleseed
Ponce de Leon
John Henry
Davy Crockett

I couldn’t find the Davy Crockett episode for a reasonable price, but I was happy to grab all of the others! There was one other spin-off series that I didn’t buy for school, but I’d love to own myself. Nightmare Classics featured some of the greatest short horror stories from literature cast with amazing actors.

The Turn of the Screw
Carmilla

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Eyes of the Panther

If I can find them on Youtube, I’m going to watch them, I love the first three stories and I’m dying to learn the story of The Eyes of the Panther.

 

Book Cart Facelift

My library cannot function without book carts. I have a bright yellow half-size one that I use to put books away and a bunch of icky beige ones I sort books on for student browsing until I get them shelved. They are divided by age ranges, one being specifically for kindergarten and 1st grade students. They are not allowed to take chapter books or higher level nonfiction from the other cart.I have too many kindergarten and 1st graders trying to grab off the wrong cart. If only my carts were different colors!

I wanted to share my inexpensive idea to fix up my blah, beat-up beige book carts – I am a master of alliteration!

As you can see, the carts have seen better days. My friend the maintenance man and I discussed painting them, but it would quite expensive to do. He figured they would need to be powder-coated to truly have a durable finish.

And of course, I complicate things by wanting multiple colors. (There is entirely too much dark blue in my library!) My brainstorming led me to order colored contact paper. It’s not very expensive, comes in a lot of colors and it looks good. My only issues with the contact paper, having applied it today, are that it can crease if you aren’t careful, and I’m not sure how well it will hold up to my students, books and bookends.

I do think I achieved my goal. It will be very easy for students to identify which cart they are allowed to browse, and it added some fun pops of color to the library.

Telling Tall Tales: Paul Bunyan

The tall tale that my students know the most about was probably Paul Bunyan. Most thought he was probably from Wisconsin or Minnesota. They knew he was a giant, had a blue ox named Babe and that he made the Grand Canyon.

We enjoyed Steven Kellogg’s retelling of Paul’s life. The kids thought the illustrations were fabulous (Kellogg’s books are amazing!). They got a good laugh out of Paul being big enough to pick up a cow while still in diapers and wrestling bears — this seems to be a common theme in Tall Tales.

The kids were right in everything they knew about Paul, but there is a lot more. Yes, he is sometimes credited with coming from the forests of the upper Midwest, but earlier stories have him coming from Maine. The legends of his gigantic size are not part of the original stories, and Kellogg did not focus on that trait in his retelling.

The Grand Canyon was said to be made by Paul dragging his axe and the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota were supposed to be he and Babe’s footprints. The kids had never heard that the Northern Lights were caused by Paul and Babe wrestling, but a lot of those “facts” weren’t from Kellogg’s retelling. All of these additions to his story rely on him being a giant.

One great thing about Kellogg’s retelling was that Paul still roams the Alaskan wilderness today. It makes sense, as it is the last untamed American frontier.

There are a lot of great books about Paul Bunyan, and I wish I owned more of them:

I’d also like to get a copy of the Disney version of Paul’s story.

You can get it in a collection with stories about John Henry (the best of the set) and Johnny Appleseed to name a few.

Telling Tall Tales

Along with the Fairytale Basics that I’m working on with first grade and third grade, I decided to introduce the second grade to tall tales.

The kids know a few, like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, but there are a lot more to share with them.

  • Paul Bunyan
  • Pecos Bill
  • Mike Fink
  • Mose the Fireman
  • Captain Stormalong
  • Casey Jones
  • Davy Crockett
  • Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind
  • Calamity Jane
  • Rip Van Winkle
  • Annie Oakley

There are more to share, and this list may grow as I pick stories for the kids. I am focusing on American characters. Keep an eye out for these exaggerated posts!