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.


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.


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.


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.

maxresdefault (1)

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




Fairytale Basics: Snow White

Not to be confusing, but there are two stories that use the name Snow White.  There is the familiar one with the dwarfs and evil queen, and then there is the one where another girl named Snow White and her sister Rose Red star. We’re going to talk about the first one, Snow White (and the seven dwarfs.)

I am reading Snow White with my 3rd grade classes right now. It’s really not what they expected.  We are reading a traditional version by the Brothers Grimm, I have two copies in my library, and we chose the one with illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman for class.

The kids thought they knew the story, but it was very different from the Disney version.  Most of them had never heard that her mother, while sewing by a window, pricked her finger with a needle and dropped three drops of blood into the snow on the ebony windowsill.  She asked for a child as white as snow, red as blood and dark as ebony.

They were also surprised that the evil stepmother targets Snow White at such a young age, 7 or 8 years old! They had never heard the part where the queen asked for the girl’s lungs and liver to be brought to her as proof she was dead.  And they were very grossed out by the queen then cooking and eating the organs.

The story has an interesting part, when Snow White finds the home of the seven dwarfs. She eats a bit from each of their plates and tries each of their beds. When the dwarfs return home, there is a very Goldilocks-moment when they ask who has been eating from their plates and sleeping in their beds.

The kids were quite surprised to learn the evil queen attempts to take Snow White’s life three times, once by lacing her corset too tightly, once by placing a poisoned comb in her hair and ultimately with the poisoned apple.

I think the weirdest parts of the story come at the end.  First after many years of lying in her glass coffin, a prince comes along and asks to take the coffin with him.  What exactly is he going to do with a dead girl? I don’t think she’s a little girl though, I think she grew up over the years in her coffin. Then he doesn’t wake her with a kiss, it is the jostling of the coffin as the soldiers carry it that dislodges the piece of apple that had choked her. She agrees to marry this random stranger-prince and when her evil stepmother arrives at the wedding, they heat iron slippers in a fire and make her wear them until she dies.


I really don’t have a lot of fractured versions of this tale.  I do have:

I probably won’t read these to the kids in 3rd grade.  Instead, I’ll wait until we’ve read the traditional Rapunzel and read the Maynard Moose tale that mashes the two together.


There are quite a few retellings that I’d like to get, some are silly, some are not.  The multi-cultural ones really seem like something I need to buy.

There are quite a lot of young adult retellings and I’ve read a few adult ones.  Here are my favorites:

Red As Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee is fabulous if you like dark fairytales.  The Snow White in this collection is a vampire.  Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is a werewolf and Cinderella is a witch.  I LOVE THIS BOOK! Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire is a historical retelling of the classic tale featuring the Borgia family of medieval Italy.  I didn’t like it as much as Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister but it was still a good read.

My search for retellings led me to a treasure today!! I’m excited to see that Liesl Shurtliff is releasing another book in her fairytale retelling series.


I loved the first three in the series Rump, Jack Red. I cannot wait to read this one!!!!

And just for some fun, I found a video from one of my favorite cartoons of the late 80s, early 90s.  Garfield and Friends did a barnyard version they called Snow Wade and the 77 Dwarfs. You can watch the youtube video here.


Chief Lelooska

When I went to the thrift store the other day, I actually found a second treasure (not just the Little Golden Book treasury.) The second treasure was a book of Native American stories from the Pacific Northwest.

Chief Lelooska was an accomplished storyteller and artist, and his books are gorgeously illustrated in his tribe’s style.

The book caught my eye because I had just read Raven by Gerald McDermott to my second grade classes.

McDermott’s story is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Chief Lelooska’s stories are not long, or complicated. They are perfect for children.

I do not yet have Lelooska’s other book but I think I can pick it up online.

Men and women like Lelooska are cultural treasures that are fading from our modern lives. I would love to find a storyteller from this area, Dakota or Lakota, to come and share this style of storytelling that is ancient and yet so different to the majority of Americans.

You can learn more about Lelooska at this site.

Hershel of Ostropol

One of my favorite types of stories is of the trickster. In the United States we have Brer Rabbit or even Bugs Bunny (kids give you a blank look when you expect them to know who that is.) The trickster is like to tell you about today is Hershel of Ostropol.

Hershel is a Jewish folk character that may have been a real person. We will talk about him again in December — I love his Hanukkah story. But I wanted to find more stories about him to share with my fourth grade students. I found some great ones right on the Wikipedia page as well as a wealth of other Jewish sites.

Here is the one that literally had me laughing out loud at my desk.

The Goose

When Hershele was a child, he had a number of brothers and sisters, of which he was the smallest. Thus, whenever they had a meal, he’d be the last to get anything. As a result, whenever they had goose, he never got to eat a foot, which was his favorite part. One evening, he snuck into the kitchen before dinner and cut a foot off of the goose, slipping it under his shirt to hide.

During dinner, his father noticed that Hershele’s shirt was grease-stained and that the goose’s left foot was missing.

– “Hershele,” he said. “Did you take the goose’s foot?”

– “No, father,” he said. “Maybe it was a one-footed goose.”

– “A one-footed goose? There’s no such thing!”

– “Sure there is. I’ll take you to see one after dinner.”

That evening, Hershele took his father out to a lake near their village. A flock of geese were sleeping on the banks, each tucking one foot into its body so that only the other was visible.

– “There’s one,” said Hershele, pointing. Thinking to outsmart his son, his father clapped, waking the goose and causing it to lower its other leg.

– “There. Now, Hershele, will you admit that you stole-”

– “Wow, father! You just clapped and the goose grew a foot! Why didn’t you do that to the one at the table?”

How can you not love this guy!

My favorite monsters

Last night my husband and I watched a movie that got me thinking about my favorite monsters.

While I am not a huge Tom Cruise fan, I did really enjoy this movie. I’m sure I’ve mentioned my love for classic movie monsters before. And the best part of those monsters is that they are often inspired by classic novels. I did some digging online and Universal Studios is going to be creating a multi-movie dark universe featuring some of these stories; The Mummy is just the first of more to come.

The big surprise in The Mummy was Russell Crowe playing a doctor. Dr. Jekyll to be more specific.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde isn’t long, but it’s horrifying. Crowe did a great job in the role, I can’t wait to see the movie about Dr. Jekyll.

One of my all time favorite actors is going to be playing the Invisible Man–Johnny Depp.

I liked The Invisible Man book by H.G. Wells. It isn’t as ominous as some monster stories but its implications are intriguing.

My all-time favorite novel is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The monster will be portrayed by Javier Bardem.

I’m giving Universal bonus points for using the title Frankenstein’s Monster. It helps with a common misconception about who is the monster in the story (which is a topic of debate for another post.) The article said that there would also be a Bride of Frankenstein but there are no named stars. I hope they follow in the footsteps of the original and cast a redhead like Elsa Lanchester–the actress who created our iconic image of the bride.

I really wanted to have a book for every one of these movies, but I’m struggling with The Mummy. I could have sworn that I once read a short story by either Jules Verne or Robert Louis Stevenson that was about a mummy. I can tell you for sure that Bran Stoker wrote The Jewel of Seven Stars and it’s about a mummy. My favorite mummy novel is actually The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice.

Now I’d like to suggest that if these movies do well, that Universal add some great stories like Dracula

Or if Universal wants to surprise audiences, they could go with a female vampire like Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.

And maybe a wolf-man, though some people will know that Stephen King himself said The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is nothing if not a werewolf story. I’d also consider The Portrait of Dorian Grey and The Island of Dr. Moreau great additions. Could something by Edgar Allan Poe be adapted?!? Give me time, I could think of plenty!

Which books would you like to see adapted to this dark universe?? I’m dying to hear from other classic monster fans.

Oregon Trail

I am taking a fairytale break to tell you about a book I’ll be using at school in a few weeks. Fourth graders study the history of South Dakota in social studies, so I try to supplement their lessons. The book I’m excited to share with you today is You Wouldn’t Want To Be An American Pioneer!

This book is part of a huge series that covers all parts of history. Kids love them because they don’t gloss over the gross and gruesome truth of how people lived in days gone by.

The book reads quickly and has little sidebars with great illustrated facts.

I learned a lot reading this book! The sidebar on the illustration above is about what what to do when your oxen get infected feet.

Cut the infected tissue out and seal the would with hot tar. Make a waterproof cover with buffalo hide.

I think the kids will really like this lesson. We played the old game The Oregon Trail last year but it ate up too much class time. I do plan to give them the link to play it at home though. You know you’re dying to play it again too!

I will also be reading another book about the pioneers:

I haven’t read it yet so I can’t give you a summary.

I also like to teach about the Native Americans from this area. These books are great!

What’s New In Children’s Literature

Wow. I did it. I taught my first professional development class to educators! I was nervous, I mean I'm used to my audience being shorter than I am, after all.

What's New In Children's Literature

What's New In Children's Lit Resources

The link above is for my resource handouts. I talked about a lot of books today.

The session covered:

  • Nonfiction
  • Biography
  • Poetry
  • Fiction (Early and Middle Grade chapters)
  • Graphic Novels
  • Picture Books

For each book, I made slides to show the cover and the illustration style. The corresponding resource page included the author, illustrator (or photographer), Accelerated Reader information, notable titles by the author, further reading bibliographies on the topics and any useful links.

I worked so hard on this project and the feedback was fabulous! I'm so proud of myself. I styled my session after an amazing woman who travels the country teaching sessions like this, Judy Freedman. I was fortunate enough to attend one of her sessions a few years ago and I learned so much!

I am kind of drained so I won't write about a particular book today, but if you are interested, check out the links.