Ahlberg, Allan The Goldilocks Variations
Gr. K–3 32 pp. Candlewick
Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. With six tongue-in-cheek variants, the Ahlbergs (father and daughter) progress from simple changes in the canonical tale’s details and repartee to a version with thirty-three bears. The verbal wit, the delicately limned pen and watercolor art with its plenitude of intriguing detail, and clever touches of paper engineering add up to a barrel of fun. Re-reading will ensue.
Subjects: Folktales, myths, and legends; Toy and movable books; Animals—Bears; Humorous stories
Arni, Samhita Sita’s Ramayana
Middle school, high school 152 pp. Groundwood
Illustrated by Moyna Chitrakar. Bold lines and vivid colors draw readers through the panels of this ancient Hindu epic (even when the text gets a bit long for a graphic novel). Arni presents the story of Queen Sita’s abduction by Ravana, the Demon King, and her rescue by Rama, aided by Hanuman the wise monkey. This interpretation’s feminist bent is documented in an afterword.
Subjects: General literature; Graphic novels; Cartoons and comics; India, Ancient; Kings, queens, and rulers; Folklore—India; Folktales, myths, and legends
Frisch, Aaron The Girl in Red
Gr. 4–6 32 pp. Creative Editions
Illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. Story by Roberto Innocenti. Little Red travels a ‘hood of a different color in this gritty adaptation. The story begins in a crumbling housing project; along the way Red meets with “jackal” hooligans and a motorcycle-riding “wolf”; we last see her at the door of Nana’s trailer, in which we know the wolf waits. Innocenti sets a menacing scene through his terse narrative and dark illustrations.
Subjects: Folktales, myths, and legends; City and town life
Pinkney, Jerry Puss in Boots
Gr. K–3 40 pp. Dial
Pinkney provides sumptuous watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations that place realistic natural elements side by side with ostentatious embellishments in the eighteenth-century clothing of the human characters. Aside from switching the story’s usual ogre into a sorcerer, Pinkney sticks close to the source and uses his large pages, including a gatefold illustration, to great effect.
Subjects: Folktales, myths, and legends; Animals—Cats; Folklore—France
Williams, Marcia The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India
Gr. 4–6 40 pp. Candlewick
Williams adapts eight fables from Indian folklore; each tale leads, satisfyingly, to its just conclusion — and to a wisdom that transcends the stories’ seemingly simple events. Well-told in narrative captions, the tales are much enhanced by comically informal remarks in speech balloons. Williams’s ebullient gouache illustrations are in the jewel-like tones of Indian art. A grand introduction to these venerable stories.
Subjects: Folktales, myths, and legends; Folklore—India; Folklore—Animals; Fables; Cartoons and comics
From the September 2013 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.