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The Best Folktale Kids Books

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Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage
Written by Jerdine Nolen & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

In this inspiring story in the tradition of American black folktales, an enslaved brother and sister are inspired by a majestic and mysterious bird to escape to freedom in this dramatic and unforgettable picture book.

There was nothing civil about that war. They should have called it what it was: a big, bad war.

Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.

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The Legend of Old Befana
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this beloved classic picture book, Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale, breathing warmth and humanity into the character of the lonely Old Befana and her endless search for the Christ Child.

Every morning and every afternoon, Old Befana sweeps with her broom. “Cranky old lady,” the children say. “She is always sweeping!” Sweep, sweep, sweep.

But when a brilliant star glows in the eastern sky one night, and Old Befana encounters the glorious procession of three kings on their way to Bethlehem, her little world will never be the same.

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The Blue Bird's Palace
Written by Orianne Lallemand & illustrated by Carole Haenaff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When Natasha makes a selfish choice, she finds herself trapped in a lavish but lonely palace, far from her widowed father. Will she find a way to escape and see her father again? This poignant tale, inspired by Russian folklore, will help start conversations about the importance of family.

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Five Sisters
Written by Stephanie Campisi & illustrated by Madalina Andronic
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

When a great white oak gifts an old man a branch imbued with magic, he carves five wooden matryoshka dolls, “each smaller than the last.” The wooden dolls take on a life of their own as they frolic from one season to the next, bringing the old man and his wife a joy they had always longed for. Beautiful verse and stunning, traditional illustrations full of woodland creatures and playfully painted matryoshka dolls explore a tale of heartache, hope, and love.

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Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: An Old Irish Story
Written by Linda Shute
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Clever Tom Fitzpatrick thinks his fortune is made when he captures a leprechaun and forces him to reveal the hiding place of his gold, but the leprechaun is clever too

A Fine St. Patrick's Day book
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A Year Full of Stories book
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The Great Race book
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Fairy Tales for Little Folks book
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  • A Fine St. Patrick's Day - WELCOME TO THE rival towns of Tralee and Tralah, where the annual St. Patrick’s Day decorating contest is under way. Every year, Tralah defeats Tralee. This year, though, little Fiona Riley has a wonderful idea that will help Tralee win the contest for sure. But neither town has counted on a stranger arriving—a funny little man with pointed ears and boots trimmed with bells—who will turn the contest upside down!

  • A Year Full of Stories - This treasury of 52 stories collects together a rich resource of myths, fairy tales and legends from around the world, with a story for every week of the year. The book is broken into 12 chapters, for each of the 12 months of the year, and throughout, stories are matched to internationally celebrated dates, including Valentines Day and the International Day of Friendship, as well as seasonal events and festivals. Collected and retold by award-winning author Angela McAllister, and illustrated by internally recognised artist Christopher Corr, this is a book that will be treasured by families and appeal to teachers and librarians around the world.

  • The Great Race - Celebrate Chinese New Year and learn how every animal earned its place in the Chinese zodiac by taking part in the Great Race! Discover who will come first to win the ultimate prize, and find out why Cat will never forgive his friend Rat in this ancient folk tale that has been passed from generation to generation. Praise for Deep in the Woods, the previous title from Christopher Corr: ‘… the book looks like a delectable candy box… There is a lesson here — about friendship, and sharing — but the book never feels plodding or pedantic… Which may be why the lesson just goes down like the truth.’

  • Fairy Tales for Little Folks - Five best-loved fairy tales by a renowned folk artist Any parent or grandparent longing to share these timeless, well-loved tales with a favorite child will welcome this enchanting collection from acclaimed folk artist Will Moses. Five tales are included: Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, and Puss in Boots. Each one is profusely illustrated with vignettes as well as a lavish double spread that incorporates all the key events of the story. This handsome volume, full of fascinating detail and plentiful charm, is destined to become a family treasure.

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Tales from Silver Lands
Written by Charles J Finger & illustrated by Paul Honore
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Atmospheric woodcuts illustrate this Newbery Award–winning collection of 19 South American folktales. Charles J. Finger heard the tales firsthand from native storytellers, whose fables of talking animals, witches, giants, and ordinary people in supernatural settings provide remarkable insights into regional values and culture.

The first of the stories, “A Tale of Three Tails,” tells of an age when the rat had a tail like a horse, the rabbit had a tail like a cat, and the deer’s tail was plumed like the tail of a dog. “The Magic Dog” recounts an act of kindness to a stray animal that helps overcome a witch’s curse. In “The Calabash Man,” the creatures of the jungle assist a suitor in winning his bride, and in “El Enano,” a greedy troll’s insatiable appetite leads to his downfall. Packed with adventure and full of surprises, these and other stories emphasize the importance of hard work, courage, and loyalty.

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Once a Mouse...
Written & illustrated by Marcia Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Marcia Brown retells an Indian fable from the Hitopadesa in this Caldecott Medal–winning tale of a mouse who becomes a tiger.

When a small mouse’s life is threatened by large jungle predators, a kindly hermit uses magic to change him into a cat, a dog, and a majestic tiger. But the proud tiger must suffer the consequences when he becomes ungrateful and forgets his humble origins. Marcia Brown’s magical woodcuts bring this Indian fable to life with the mastery that won her a second Caldecott Medal.

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World Full of Spooky Stories: 50 Tales to Make Your Spine Tingle
Written by Angela McAllister & illustrated by Madalina Andronic
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Get ready for Halloween with this child-friendly collection of spooky stories from all over the world.

Feel your pulse race and your skin tingle as you turn the pages of this spine chilling anthology of spooky stories from around the world. Read all about the fearsome witch Baba Yaga, the serpent woman from Spain, the rescue of Tam Lin from the bewitching Queen of the Fairies, how Father Death gets caught in the Enchanted Apple Tree, and the waterdwelling Bunyip from Australia. Make sure you have your candle ready as it’s sure to be a long night… This gorgeous gift book is the perfect anthology for Halloween, or any time you want to be spooked!

Features stories from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Africa, Brazil, Japan, Australia, India, UK, Canada, France, China, Ireland, Syria, Korea, Sweden, Egypt, Iceland, New Zealand, Arabia, Spain, Tibet, Iran, Greece. The tales are expertly retold by Angela McAllister for spooky fun for the whole family and illustrated by Romanian born Madalina Andronic whose beautifully spooky images bring these stories to life before your very eyes.

Are you ready for story time with a spooky twist?

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Three Billy Goats Gruff
Written by Paul Galdone
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

The three goat brothers brave the terrible troll in a colorful version of the classic tale. “The large, lively, double-page spreads are sure to win a responsive audience at story hour.” — School Library Journal

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