Thursday’s Tale: The Little Red Hen

Thursday’s Tale: The Little Red Hen The Little Red Hen by Golden Books Staff
Illustrator: J. P. Miller
Series: Little Golden Book
Published by Golden Books on August 18, 2012 (first published 1954)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Folktale, Picture Book
Pages: 24
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Beloved illustrator J. P. Miller’s graphic, colorful farm animals seem to jump right off the page—but they aren’t jumping to help the Little Red Hen plant her wheat! Young children will learn a valuable lesson about teamwork from this funny, favorite folktale.

Amber’s 17 now, so I don’t really have much need to look at little kids books except for Christmas and my nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays, and then I always buy physical books. I just learned today that a bunch of the Little Golden Books I remember as a kid are available for Kindle, with the same illustrations and everything.

In the tale, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from the the duck, the goose, the cat, and the pig to plant it, but they all decline. They each are doing something fun, as the pictures show.

At each later stage (reaping, carrying the wheat to the mill, making the flour into dough, and baking the loaf), the hen again asks for help from the other animals, but each time no one wants to help her.

Finally, the bread is ready and the hen asks who will help her eat the bread. This time, everyone volunteers, but she says she will eat it all herself.

I think the blurb is a little misleading. I’m not sure the lesson is about teamwork, but more about not participating in the team. If you don’t help, you don’t get the reward.

And I have to share a couple of the pictures, since it is the illustrations that make this version so memorable for me.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Thursday’s Tale: The Boy Who Wanted the Willies

Thursday’s Tale: The Boy Who Wanted the Willies Folktales on Stage by Aaron Shepard
Published by Shepard Publications on September 1, 2003
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Folktale, Play
Pages: 180
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Folktales on Stage is a collection of 16 reader's theater scripts for young readers, adapted by award-winning children's author Aaron Shepard from his own folktale retellings. A wide variety of countries and cultures is represented, including Native America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia, and China. The scripts may be freely copied for educational, noncommercial purposes. While aiming mostly at ages 8 to 15, the collection features a full range of reading levels.


Today’s story comes from Folktales on Stage by Aaron Shepherd. The book is a very nice collection of scripts for children. Some were new to me and others familiar. There are funny stories and tales with a moral lesson. The scripts are clear and appropriate for children. If I worked with a group of kids, whether in school or storytime, I think it would be a nice addition to my shelves.

Shepherd based “The Boy Who Wanted the Willies” on a tale by the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, “The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear” but added a lot of changes and embellishments.

There was once a boy, Hans, who was never afraid of anything, mostly because he didn’t have enough sense to be afraid. One evening Hans and his sister were walking by a graveyard when the sister said the place gave her the willies. Hans asked what the willies were and his sister told him the willies are when you get so scared, you shiver and shake. The boy decided he wanted to get the willies. At this point the script has the sister look at the audience and shake her head in disgust. It’s a funny little story if you included other’s reactions to the boy, whether they be spoken or not.

Hans said goodbye to his family and went out, determined to look for the willies. He told everyone he met along the way and many tried to scare him, but none succeeded. Finally he met a king who told him about a haunted castle that was sure to give him the willies if he spent the night. However, he also told Hans that no one who gone there had ever lived through the night. Adding, that if he did stay alive, he could break the spell and find the castle treasure.

It was midnight when Hans entered the castle. When the clock struck one, he saw two men, a vampire and a werewolf, playing cards. They invited him to join and of course the boy lost. First the vampire threatened to drain his blood, but Hans broke off one of his fangs. Then the werewolf pounced, but Hans ducked out of the way and the werewolf went through the window. Hans sat back down in front of the fire, still wondering when he would get the willies.

At two o’clock a parade of skeletons came in, banging out a rhythm with their various bones. At first Hans dance with them, but when they went faster and faster and wouldn’t stop, he ended up breaking them apart by swinging a chair around. He tossed the bones out the window and settled back in.

At three o’clock, a voice bellowed down the chimney, “Look out below.” And down came a giant body, then arms and legs, and finally a giant head. The boy, assuming it was a puzzle, put the giant back together. Once he was whole again, the giant jumped up, exclaiming that the spell was broken and had Hans follow him to the treasure. The giant wanted Hans to do all the work, but Hans told the giant to do the digging and hauling until there were three pots of gold in the great haul, one for the king, one for the poor, and one for Hans. Then the giant fell apart again and flew up the chimney.

Hans, thinking it was nice to be rich, but still wondering when he would get the willies, settled back into the chair by the fire for the rest of the night.

The king lets Hans live in the castle, and once he is grown up he married the king’s daughter. The soon have triplets.

PRINCESS: Dearest, would you like to name them?
HANS: Certainly! Their names are Willy . . . Willy . . . and Willy!
PRINCESS: (confused) But why all the same?
HANS: (triumphantly, to audience) Because now I’ll have the Willies!
ALL (except Hans): (to audience, give a look of disbelief and dismay)

Cute, huh? In a cheesy, silly way that I can picture kids laughing at.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Thursday’s Tale: Magic Words

Thursday’s Tale: Magic Words Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit by Edward Field
Illustrator: Mike Blanc
Published by Vanita Books on September 1, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Folktale, Picture Book
Pages: 24
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit is a modern translation (1965) of a very old Inuit creation story by nationally known poet Edward Field. As a poem it captures beautifully the intimate relationship this Arctic people have with their natural world.

Magic Words describes a world where humans and animals share bodies and languages, where the world of the imagination mixes easily with the physical. It began as a story that told how the Inuit people came to be and became a legend passed from generation to generation. In translation it grew from myth to poem. The text comes from expedition notes recorded by Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen in 1921. Edward Field got a copy from the Harvard Library and translated it into English.

I love books that expose kids to other cultures, to other ways of looking at this world. Magic Words is a good introduction to the Inuit people.

It’s a gorgeous book. I read the eBook, but wish I had the paperback. The illustrations are richly colored and imaginative and invoke the feeling of the Inuit culture. According to the book, the illustrations began as ink drawings that were retraced and softened with 6B extra soft charcoal pencil. You know, before Amber started drawing I think I was pretty sure all pencils were #2 and the directions on standardized tests to use a #2 were silly. Anyway, the finished drawings were scanned and colored digitally. They are vibrant and just gorgeous.

sample page

The poem talks of a past time when people could become animals and animals could become people and they all spoke the same language. And the words they were powerful and could have unintended consequences – a good reminder to be mindful of what you say. It’s a lovely poem and in my opinion, it could be a great jumping off place to talk about cultures, what animal you’d turn into, or that words can hurt or help situations. It also has a nice list of animals to spot through the book.

It’s a book I would have enjoyed reading to Amber when she was little and I think she would have liked it. It’s colorful and full of creatures and who hasn’t wanted to fly? But I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s not really a story. We learn about this time, but nothing really happens. “That’s the way it was.” The end. It you’re expecting a folktale, you’ll be disappointed. It’s a wonderful book, but a gentle one that doesn’t really go anywhere.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

%d bloggers like this: