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The Best Legends Kids Books

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The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle.

Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle.

The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food.

Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…

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The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
Written & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh reimagines one of Mexico’s cherished legends. Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love. The emperor promised Popoca if he could defeat their enemy Jaguar Claw, then Popoca and Izta could wed. When Popoca was near to defeating Jaguar Claw, his opponent sent a messenger to Izta saying Popoca was dead. Izta fell into a deep sleep and, upon his return, even Popoca could not wake her. As promised Popoca stayed by her side. So two volcanoes were formed: Iztaccíhuatl, who continues to sleep, and Popocatépetl, who spews ash and smoke, trying to wake his love.

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A Year Full of Stories
Written by Angela McAllister & illustrated by Christopher Corr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee
Written by Elinor Teele
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A rip-roaring puzzle box of an adventure about grit, guts, and gold, from Elinor Teele, the acclaimed author of The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin. The small, run-down town of Eden is the only place Jenny Burns has ever called home. The roots of the trees are in her bones, the air of the mountains is in her breath, the lakes and rivers are in her blood. And that’s why, when her father loses his job and tells Jenny that they may have to move on from Eden, she knows she can’t let that happen. The fever of New Zealand’s gold rush still runs in the veins of Eden, and everyone knows the legend of Doc Magee: how he found the largest gold nugget anyone had ever seen and hid it somewhere in the hills before he disappeared. Jenny and her best friend, Pandora, know that if they can find the gold, it’ll solve all their problems. But the way is fraught with mysteries, riddles, and danger—and those are just the threats they know about. Before her quest is over, Jenny will have to face challenges from within as well as from without.

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Golem
Written & illustrated by David Wisniewski
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Retold from traditional sources and accompanied by David Wisniewski’s unique cut-paper illustrations, Golem is a dramatic tale of supernatural forces invoked to save an oppressed people. It also offers a thought-provoking look at the consequences of unleashing power beyond human control. The afterword discusses the legend of the golem and its roots in the history of the Jews. A Caldecott Medal Book.

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  • The White Stag - Winner of the Newbery Medal For generations the tribes of Huns and Magyars had moved relentlessly westward, obeying the voices of their pagan gods, which compelled them to follow the elusive white stag to their promised homeland. They swept Europe, all the while pursuing their vision of the stag. Their leader was called Attila, and the land Hungary. Here is the epic story of their tribal migration and their fierce leader—known to us even today. “The wonder of a fairy tale, the stirring romance of a heroic legend, rounded out with the color, atmosphere, and poetry of this artist’s retelling of the story of Attila.”—The New York Times

  • Tales from Silver Lands - 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.

  • Whittington - This Newbery-Honor winning tale introduces Whittington, a roughneck Tom who arrives one day at a barn full of rescued animals and asks for a place there. He spins for the animals--as well as for Ben and Abby, the kids whose grandfather does the rescuing--a yarn about his ancestor, the nameless cat who brought Dick Whittington to the heights of wealth and power in 16th-century England. This is an unforgettable tale about the healing, transcendent power of storytelling, and how learning to read saves one little boy.

  • World Full of Spooky Stories: 50 Tales to Make Your Spine Tingle - Get ready for Halloween with this child-friendly collection of spooky stories from all over the world.

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In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

A glorious gift book from an award-winning storyteller and a much lauded illustrator, who evoke the high drama of mythical Greece and the prehistory of Rome in this retelling of “The Aeneid.” <BR>Taking his old father on his back and his young son by the hand, Aeneas flees the sacked city of Troy, entrusted by his goddess-mother, Venus, with a daunting mission: Find a new homeland for his people. It is an arduous journey. At every turn, unimaginable dangers await him: terrible monsters and giants; supernatural hazards sent by the enraged goddess Juno; and worst of all, an eerie, death-defying descent into the Underworld, where he will be allowed a glimpse of his Roman descendants’ glorious future.

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The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales
Written by & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Come sit by the fire and listen as the storyteller brings to life a favorite character from West African folktale—the mischievious and clever spider. Through tales of how he got a thin waist to why he lives on ceilings, spider is sure to delight readers with his outrageous wit and boldness.

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