Friday, March 22, 2013

World Folktales and Fables Week

It's World Folktales and Fables week! There are many folk tale, fable, and fairy tale books that aren't Grimm of Perrault (I covered those here, here, and here.) Let's look at some of them:


Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. Less of a retelling and more a fleshing out to make it a full-length novel, this is a beautiful and version of the Norwegian tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. old in three parts, this graphic novel's stories eventually merge into a single tale about accepting who you are. Jin Wong just wants to be an all-American kid instead of an immigrant one. Danny (a truly all-American kid) is horribly embarrassed by the antics of his cousin Chin-Kee. And the legendary Monkey King just wants to be the most revered of all the gods.

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. This one takes the ancient ballad of Tam Lin and sets it in an English department at a small liberal arts school in the 1970s. It goes in and out of print (sadly, at the moment, it's out of print) but it's worth tracking down-- it's been a favorite of mine since I was a teen.


Lots of entries from Simon Pulse's Once Upon a Time series. This series does have multiple authors, but most of the non-Grimm/Perrault stories (and most of my favorites in general) are done by Dokey.

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey. This is a great novelization of the ballad of Mulan. While some plot elements are truer to the Disney movie than the original, it's still really well done.

The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey. This time Dokey and the Once Upon a Time series takes on Arabian Nights but instead of focusing on one of the 1001 tales, she focuses on the frame story. This is Scharazad's tale, her version of what happened with the king, and why.

Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey. When Kai declares his love for his best friend Grace, she feels trapped and starts to pull away, but when Kai disappears, it's up to Grace to find him in this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.


Circle of Cranes by Annette LeBox. Suyin is an orphan who has an uncanny gift for languages, and has been forbidden to learn embroidery, an important cultural skill in her Miao village. When an opportunity to go to America comes, the village sends her. The opportunity turns out to be working in a sweatshop as an undocumented worker. At night, the cranes come for her, teaching her embroidery and about her magical past and powers. Incorporating the Japanese Crane Wife folktale, this is a blend of contemporary grit and magical escape.

The Jersey Devil by James McCloy and Ray Miller. A great introduction to the sinister creature that stalks through New Jersey's Pinewoods.

What ones am I missing? What are your favorite books based on world fables or folktales? Any good ones from Africa or South America (both missing from my list)?

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