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Books About Folklore                     [back to index]

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Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest / Coyote: Un cuento folklórico del sudoeste de Estados Unidos
by Gerald McDermott
Coyote decides he wants to fly with the crows and begs them to teach him to sing, dance and fly like they do. They humor him, until his off-key singing, out-of-step dancing and boasting cause them to take back the gifts.  The story explains why Coyote is the color of dust and his tail has a burnt, black tip.  

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El Cucuy: A Bogeyman Cuento in English and Spanish
by Joe Hayes, illustrated by Honorio Robledo
Because his two lazy daughters play all day and refuse to help clean house and cook for their widowed father, he makes good on his threat to call el cucuy – a gigantic bogeyman with a crooked back and a large, red ear to come carry them away.  In the end, the remorseful girls are reunited with their father.   

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Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book
by Yuyi Morales
In this original trickster tale, Señor Calavera arrives unexpectedly at Grandma Beetle's door. He requests that she leave with him right away, but Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip, using both Spanish and English words to tally party preparations, and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and her surprise guest.

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The Magic Bean Tree: A Legend from Argentina
by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
This tale from the Quechua people of Argentina tells of the first tree in the world, a carob, and the bird that is so evil it could stop the rain from falling.  A young boy named Topec goes in search of rain and brings his people to make noise until the bird flies away allowing the gods to hear the people's prayers and send rain. As a reward, the carob sheds beans, which provide food for everyone; soon carob trees spread throughout Argentina. 

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Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes/Los Perros Magicos De Los Volcanes
by Manlio Argueta, illustrated by Elly Simmons
For generations, the cadejos, wolflike, magical animals, have cared for the people who live at the foot of the volcanoes of El Salvador. But then the landowner decides to do away with them in the hopes of making the campesinos work harder. In desperation the cadejos call upon their great-great grandparents, the volcanoes, who defeat the landowner and his soldiers.

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Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folktale/ Un lazo a la luna: Una leyenda peruana
by Lois Ehlert
Explanations of the moon and nature are revealed in this retelling of a Peruvian legend.  Mole is a practical fellow who longs only for worms. Fox, however, is a visionary who wants to go to the moon. They hook a grass rope to the crescent and, with the aid of some birds, set off.   

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Pablo Remembers: The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead / Pablo Recuerda: La fiesta de día delos muertos
by George Ancona
This photo-documentary follows Pablo, a boy of about 12 who lives near Oaxaca, as he prepares to honor the memory of his grandmother and goes shopping for all the necessary ingredients for the foods and elaborate ceremonies of the Days of the Dead. 

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Prietita and the Ghost Woman / Prietita y La Llorona
by Gloria Anzaldua, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Throughout the Hispanic Americas, generations have heard the tale of "La Llorona," the crying woman who killed her children and wanders through the night wailing with grief, sometimes kidnapping youngsters.  Here is an update of the tale that still teaches kids valuable lessons.

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Roadrunner's dance (El baile del correcaminos)
by Rudolfo Anaya, illustrated by David Diaz
Inspired by traditional creation stories, this lively lesson in perseverance explains the existence of the unusual Southwestern bird, the roadrunner.  The Desert Woman molds clay from the Sacred Mountain and, with the help of the other desert animals, creates a new creature to be a match for the evil rattlesnake. 

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The Woman Who Outshone the Sun / La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol
by Alejandro Cruz Martinez, illustrated by Fernando Olivera
An adaptation from the Zapotec Indians of Mexico, this is the legend of a woman whose mysterious beauty overwhelms an entire village, and causes the inhabitants to fear and reject her. Only on discovering that they lose their glorious river with her, do they repent.

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