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Folklore and poetry | Class #5, fall 2016

Folklore and poetry

For our class on November 16, we are reading four books and one article. I like combining these two genres because both need to be read aloud in order to really appreciate them.

Folklore has to have a strong voice, as it comes from an oral tradition where storytellers have individual styles, just as today’s popular singers have their own ways of putting songs across. Poetry, too, needs to be heard to appreciate the sound of the words — and spoken aloud to feel their combinations in your mouth. And of course poetry needs to be seen on the page because the line breaks, indentations, and even the leading are as important. Each of these four books is expertly illustrated, as well. So there is lots to analyze and discuss this week!

Representing folklore stand-alone picture books, Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile is a hybrid of two story types: the trickster and the noodlehead. This story probably originated in northeastern Liberia where it was collected by Won-Ldy Pay. The second folklore book is Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal, Paul Fleischman’s compilation of tales from a variety of origins, all of the Cinderella story type — persecuted heroins with supernatural helpers.

Representing poetry, we are reading Poetrees, one of Douglas Florian’s themed poetry books, this time about trees. For our poetry compilation, we have the über-collection of poetry forms compiled by Paul Janeszco, A Kick in the Head. There are plenty of compilations for children that feature one poetry type — haiku, concrete poems, etc. This one has one of everything — or as close to everything as I’ve found for an elementary-aged audience.

With Debra Smith’s help, I’ve written a special blog post about using poetry in school, including some poetry resources for teachers. In addition to helping me teach this class, Debra is a writer and has a background in Montessori education.

Finally, we are reading Susan Dove Lempke’s Horn Book article, “Purposeful Poetry” from the May/June 2005 special issue on poetry.

We invite all of you to join our discussion this week in the comments below.

Note: Students have been asked to research specific book creators and websites and add their findings in the comments.

  • Shaina L. on Won-Ldy Paye
  • Emily N. on Margaret H. Lippert
  • Nell K. on Paul Fleischman
  • Melissa C. on Julie Paschkis
  • Shuwen L. on Douglas Florian
  • Tim M. on Paul Janeczko
  • Andrea M. on Chris Raschka
  • Monique H. on Cinderella-type stories


Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Emily Nadel says:

    Margaret H. Lippert

    Margaret began listening to and telling stories as a child. Her father told the same tales over again to his children, inspiring Margaret’s interest in folktales and the global culture of storytelling. Growing up in a small cooperative community, she helped care for younger children, entertaining them with such stories.

    In college, Margaret became involved with the civil right movement, spending time in Tennessee registering black voters. After college, she served in Tanzania and Guatemala with the American Friends Service Committee (Quaker organization). Margaret taught in NYC for many years, receiving her Ed.M from Teachers College, Columbia University, and wrote her dissertation of storytelling in the classroom in 1983.

    Here is a link to her website and a list of publications:

    • The Talking Vegetables, Holt, 2006 (co-authored by Won-Ldy Paye and illustrated by Julie Paschkis)
    • Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, Holt, 2003 (co-authored by Won-Ldy Paye and illustrated by Julie Paschkis)
    • Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia, Holt, 2002 (co-authored by Won-Ldy Paye and illustrated by Julie Paschkis)
    • Finist the Falcon: A Russian Legend, Troll, 1996 (illustrated by Dave Albers)
    • The Sea Serpents’s Daughter: A Brazilian Legend, Troll, 1993 (illustrated by Felipe Davalos)
    • Why the Moon Is in the Sky: An African Folk Tale, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon)
    • The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Jan Pyk)
    • The Clever Turtle, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Ray Cruz)
    • The Little Red Hen, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Mary Jane Begin)
    • The Three Bears, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Lulu Delacre)
    • Timimoto, Macmillan, 1988 (illustrated by Kathy Mitchell)

  2. Paul Fleischman

    Writing is in Paul Fleischman’s blood—his father was Newbery Award-winning author Sid Flesichman, author of The Whipping Boy and By The Great Horn Spoon!, among others. Sid read Paul and his siblings his books as he wrote them, instilling in Paul a lifelong passion for the written and spoken word. He is the author of over 40 books for children and young adults.
    From Santa Monica, California, Paul lived for years in an 18th century house (without electricity!) in Vermont and cites this as sparking his interest in historical fiction.
    Like his father, he has won a Newbery Medal, his for Joyful Noise—two years after Sid’s win. (He was at the dentist when he learned about his win!) He has also been nominated for a National Book Award and the Hans Christian Andersen award for a body of children’s literature.
    Paul describes his work Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal, which we’re reading for this week, as “braid[ing] together many different tellings of the Cinderella story from around the world,” and notes that like several of his other works, it is a book for young readers that blends multiple points of view. He describes his interest in multiple perspectives as related to his passion for music, calling these different voices “symphonic.”

    His website, with a list of his publications:
    Paul’s Twitter:

  3. Chris Raschka

    “I like to think of the art as the book. The book is the artwork. So, this is the art object, this book here that opens and everything. Not the text and not the illustration. Everything has to come together. The end papers, the typography, the size and the format, the kind of paper you use; all has an effect upon the artwork. ” said Chris Raschka in a video by Open Road Media.

    Whether using oil crayons, watercolors, or small pieces of paper, Raschka likes to paint spontaneously using brief brush strokes and simple forms that emphasize gestures. He considers his art to be the kind of art that appealed to him as a child.

    Chris Raschka has written and/or illustrated over 50 children’s books. He received the 2012 Caldecott Medal for “A Ball for Daisy” his first wordless book; the 2006 Caldecott Medal for “The Hello, Goodbye Window” by Norton Juster; and a Caldecott Honor in 1994 for his book “Yo! Yes?”.

    After studying Biology, Raschka enrolled in Medical School, but on his first day he made a life changing decision and called the school to let them know he wouldn’t be attending. That was when he knew he really wanted to be a painter. He took a job illustrating political cartoons and soon moved to New York City where his first book, “Charlie Parker Played Be Bop”, was published in 1992.

    Meet Chris Raschka

    Read more about Chris Raschka here:

  4. Melissa Christ says:

    Julie Paschkis

    Julie Paschkis is a talented author and illustrator of several books. She illustrated two books which we are reading this week: Glass Slipper and Mrs. Chicken and Hungry Crocodile. Her work has been recognized with many accolades and honors over the years. The following are just a few of her honors: Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams by Janet Wong was a 2000 New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and Yellow Elephant by Julie Larios received a 2006 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award Book. Many of her books have been named to Best Books of the Year lists, including Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by Paul Fleischman, which is a NY Times Notable Book, a Book Sense Pick, a New York Public Library 100 Best Book, and a Kirkus Best Book for 2007. 

    Paschkis grew up near Philadelphia, PA. As a child, her parents encouraged her and her siblings to make things, read, draw and play outside. This influenced her growing up and after receiving her teaching certificate, she taught art to children for several years. Paschkis took a class from Keith Baker in 1991 on how to illustrate children’s books. At the end of the class, she went to New York with her portfolio and dummies -– one of which became So Sleepy/Wide Awake {1993}, published by Henry Holt. She quit her teaching job, and she’s been painting and illustrating full time since then. Her art ranges across many kinds of media. She illustrates books, designs fabrics, and makes quilts. When illustrating books, Julie’s usual medium is Gouache on paper. She reports that although her work flows in many directions, all of the ideas and creations are connected. The work that she does in one area inspires the work she does in other areas. Paschkis lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, Joe Max Emminger, who is a painter. She enjoys spending most of her time in her art studio with a view of the trees and mountains.

    To find out more about Julie Paschkis and for a list of books that she has written and/or illustrated, visit the links below:

    Additionally, she blogs about children’s books on the blog:

  5. These genres, particularly poetry, were never ones I felt particularly interested in as a child. While I always enjoyed a good story, and I could often enough be found perusing a Shel Silverstein book, I preferred realistic fiction stories or non-fiction information texts over fantasy or poetry, especially when we had to create our own. I never felt comfortable in artistic spaces, believing I belonged strictly in structured, logical spaces.

    Coincidentally, I have been grappling with the implied separation of these two areas in another one of my classes this semester. Science and art were always presented to me as separate entities, but I am realizing more and more that they are hopelessly intertwined, if we just take the time to look closer. Janeczko’s explanation about the rules and structure inherent within poetry and the challenges they provide shifted my perspective and allowed me to look at the poems that followed with a new sense of puzzlement and joy. The approach of the book, with vibrant examples paired with short explanations, made poems feel accessible to me, as I would imagine it does for children as well. I still have a lot to learn, but books like this make me excited to dive in and learn more.

  6. Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella beautifully interwove versions of Cinderella told around the world. The overall story of Cinderella is unchanging, although details are integrated from each country that make this book very unique. I do feel that it would be important if this was being used in a classroom that this book is being presented as traditional literature because I fear students may stereotype based on the illustrations. Overall, I feel that this book would be a wonderful addition to any unit on traditional literature in grades K-4 as well as a great introduction to writing at any level.

  7. Melissa Christ says:

    In addition to my post about Julie Paschkis (above), I couldn’t help but share with you a section from an interview in which she describes what she does when she gets a text. I found it to be insightful. She uses Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal as one example:

    “After I get a text, I let it percolate in my head for a while before I do any drawings. I think about how to approach it in general terms. For example, when I illustrated Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal (Henry Holt, 2007), I decided to approach it through the metaphor of textiles -– the words were woven together, so I would weave the pictures together. I looked at lots of folk textiles from the cultures that the story takes place in and painted a sample page in the style that I was considering. Then I draw a VERY rough storyboard. Next, I do tighter sketches for a dummy. After I get feedback from the publisher and a rough layout with text, I paint the finals. As I finish each painting, I pin it to the wall so I can see the book as a whole. Every book has something about it that is hard for me -– there is always a moment when I am terrified that I can’t do it or there is some aspect that feels overwhelming. There is usually a turning point where I can turn that fear into creativity -– I can figure out how to approach the problem in a way that is interesting. For example, when I illustrated Through Georgia’s Eyes, I was shaking in my knees at the thought of painting O’Keeffe’s paintings. She had already done it -– much better than I ever could. I called Reka Simonsen (the editor) to see why they didn’t just use her artwork, and she explained that they wanted O’Keeffe herself portrayed in the book -– not just her work. I went to Santa Fe to do research. At the folk art museum there, I had a eureka moment when I saw a Polish Papercut -– I could portray her work in cut paper. That method gave me a way into the project. And that interest in papercuts led to making my own papercuts and to the paintings in Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal. I think if you are open to it, everything in your life can feed everything else.”
    The full interview can be found at:

  8. Melissa Christ says:

    Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile written by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert; and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, is a humorous tale of a clever Mrs. Chicken who outsmarts a hungry Mr. Crocodile. I laughed alongside my children and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next as we read this book. We felt like we were in on Mrs. Chicken’s secret (switching the eggs) and were curious if Mr. Crocodile would fall for her plan. The illustrations by Paschkis are bright and engaging. I thought the contrast of the white background at the beginning and end of the book, to the black background in the middle of the book, during the suspenseful time when Mrs. Chicken is held captive by Mr. Crocodile, added to the emotion I felt as a reader. In addition, I loved how Paschkis depicted the scales of Mr. Crocodile. As a teacher, I feel this book lends itself perfectly to be transformed into a classroom Reader’s Theater.

  9. Monique H. says:

    Hi All,
    Here’s some research I’ve found on Cinderella-type stories:

    Cinderella is a folk tale that exists in thousands of variations and under many names. Overall, it is the story of a girl who suffers “unjust oppression”, but ultimately receives a “triumphant reward”. The oldest known “Cinderella” story is the Greek tale of Rhodopis, which was first recorded in the 1st century BC. The next known version of the story is from 9th century China and called Ye Xian. The most popular versions of the story were by French author Charles Perrault (in the 17th century) and the Brothers Grimm (in the 19th century).

    In the present day, Cinderella-type stories continue to be told and retold. I’d like to end with a quote from writer/journalist Linda Holmes who states that: “if it’s just a rescue of a deserving underdog from an ordinary life and delivery to an extraordinary one, then ‘The Little Mermaid’ is Cinderella, and ‘Pretty Woman’ is Cinderella, and — to be honest? — ‘Captain America’ is Cinderella.”


  10. Won-Ldy Paye is a storyteller from the Tapita region in Liberia, a country in West Africa. He is actually a member of Tlo Ker Mehn, a class of storytellers that maintain the oral tradition of the Dan people. He has learned a myriad of traditional arts to supplement his story telling, including painting, mask-making, drumming, and so on. He grew up in a place where he described as having “toys and games” everywhere, made from found objects and natural things in his home region.

    Naturally, for him, in addition to becoming an internationally renowned artist and performer, these skills have translated into well into children’s literature. He has published a number of children’s books. His books include:
    + The Talking Vegetable By Won-Ldy Paye, Margaret H. Lippert, Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)
    + Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile: A Story from Liberia By Won-Ldy Paye, Margaret H. Lippert, Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)
    + Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia By Won-Ldy Paye, Margaret H. Lippert, Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)
    + Why Leopard Has Spots: Dan Stories From Liberia By Won-Ldy Paye, Margaret H. Lippert, Ashley Bryan (Illustrator)

    For more information:

  11. I’m thoughtful about Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal. I don’t think I would even have thought of it as poetry and not just a regular fairy-tale picture book! (Though I accept Lolly’s categorization, because I admittedly know very little about publishing and categories.) What makes certain children’s books poetry versus making them picture books with poetic text? Is the book we read about Fannie Lou Hamer considered a poetry book, or a nonfiction book, or a picture book?

    I want to echo a classmate’s (Alice Wang) thoughts about the Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal book, too. While I appreciated that it represented equally many different cultures, I also worried about essentialism! The book is certainly lovely and beautifully written and illustrated, but what do children take away from it?

    This post is full of questions and not so many observations!

    – Shaina

  12. I believe very strongly that poetry is valuable and belongs in the classroom. Yet, if we need to convince others of its merits, I think the points made in the post about teaching poetry are totally valid: poetry can increase fluency and phonemic awareness and teach comprehension. Reading poetry can also foster good overall reading habits. For example, poetry reminds the reader to read carefully, paying attention to every single word, every break in a line. Often, the poems used in early elementary classrooms are short enough that students can go back and read and reread the poem multiple times, until new levels of meaning reveal themselves. Poetry is also the ideal genre to help students explore how language, structure, and meaning intersect, and can be used to teach students about symbolism, figurative language, and word choice, all of which will help children become better readers of fiction, nonfiction, and texts of any genre. I suppose that would be my argument. When children become better readers of poetry, they become better readers. Period.

    I was surprised to learn that poems are sometimes especially written to fulfill curriculum needs. This seems a bit backwards but also just unnecessary. There are so many great existing poems to use with young children in the classroom, it seems like a shame to pass these over in favor of something so inauthentic.

  13. I really enjoyed reading through A Kick in the Head— I admittedly had never heard of so many of these poetic forms before! After reading each poem, I found myself turning the pages backwards and forwards to see how the forms were similar and/or different. I thought it was interesting that the poem form descriptions on each page were in such a tiny font, allowing the poems (and their bright, playful illustrations) to really take the main focus. I also appreciated Janeczko’s book introduction, as he noted, “Knowing the rules makes poetry—like sports—more fun,” then adding, “That said, in this book of 29 poetic forms, not all the examples strictly follow the rules of their form… Poets are sometimes more interested in following the spirit of a poetic form…” This book highlights how engaging and wonderful poetry can be–I could certainly see it being used in classrooms for students of a wide range of ages.

  14. Douglas Florian
    Douglas Florian is the creator of many acclaimed pictures books. Florian grew up in Manhattan and still lives in New York City today with his family. His father was an artist and encouraged his son to draw and observe the world around him. His mother was an avid reader and helped him appreciate words and poetry.
    He was a cartoonist before a chance encounter with William Cole’s anthology of children’s verse, which inspired him to create art. Florian’s illustration often incorporates elements of collage, watercolor and gouache on a surface of primed paper bags. His poems always uses wordplay and humor to engage young readers.
    Here is a link for his works and a video of him introducing the Drone Bees:
    This is his official home page:
    Florian talks about what makes a good poem to kids:

  15. Paul Fleischman describes “Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal” as “symphonic” and Julie Paschkis, as Melissa shared, thinks of both his words and her illustrations as “woven together,” textured in connecting these stories from different regions. I’m curious, like Shaina and Alice, about what a child’s experience of this book would be like. For the most part, the different cultural interpretations weave fairly seamlessly into one another–Cinderella could be eating pan dulce, then told to weed the rice fields, in this combination-setting. I especially appreciated the pages in which both text and illustration go back and forth from two regions in a patterned way, like the Germany/Appalachia interplay; Cinderella simply has two tasks that get resolved in two different ways. It’s interesting that in all the illustrations except a few where her hair is covered, Cinderella has the same flowing black hair. I wondered what the thinking was behind keeping this consistent.
    The one exception I found to the story holding together 100% despite the jumps in place was about Cinderella’s shoes. Are they glass slippers, diamond anklets, or sandals of gold? Or a straw sandal? Does it matter, and would a child care?

  16. Poetry has never been my favorite genre, but I found “A Kick in the Head” a very interesting book. This is a great book to introduce children to different types of poetry, and introduce children to the rhymes of poetry. I particularly like the way the author juxtapose poems. I find the two sonnets by Shakespeare and Wayland extremely hilarious. “When I sort out this sonnet’s classic rhyme/And try to comprehend with all my might.” vividly captures the true experience of a literature student. The illustrations are a delight too. They are visually captivating and perfectly match the text.
    Same with Catherine, I am surprised that some poems are written for curriculum needs. While it is a bit too intentional, I guess it is also understandable to offer supplies when there is demand, so long as the quality is kept up to standard.

  17. I appreciate the multifunctionality of A Kick in the Head as both a well-curated poetry collection in general and a reference book for the variety of poetic forms. I found the introduction to be very child-friendly, and I can imagine children becoming much more interested both in reading and writing poetry after having it introduced in this way. I also found Raschka’s pictoral representations of the poetic forms in the upper corners to be very helpful.

    I also loved Poetrees, and that it is designed to be held vertically rather than horizontally; I appreciated that choice rather than simply choosing a tall and thin design, as I think the novelty of that design would appeal to children (and appeals to me as an adult, as well!). I enjoyed the wordplay of with “seed,” “tree,” and “yew” in various poems, and the often subtle ways the illustrations enhanced the themes of the poetry.

  18. Stone Dawson says:

    In reading for this week’s class, I especially enjoyed “A Kick in the Head.” While the poems are in and of themselves entertaining, the book’s usefulness as a tool for young students learning about poetry I think cannot be overstated. The poems are all fantastic examples of the various types of poetry being discussed, and the additional descriptions give the reader all of the important details without overcomplicating the forms. The colorful illustrations are interesting without being distracting, and the longer explanations of the various forms in the back of the book are excellent for students who are possibly studying or writing their first poems. Put simply, I think this book is the perfect response for teachers to give to those students who don’t enjoy a poem because “It doesn’t even rhyme.”

  19. The folklore book, Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, is very interesting. I really like the illustration, as the expressions of the faces can be related to the text. Additionally, it is very exciting to see the story, and I imagine children will be intrigued by Mrs. Chicken when she says they are sisters and she will prove it. There are several conversations could be addressed. For example, it will reinforce the idea of “sisters take care of each other”, which can help children to form better sibling relationship. Teacher could also talk about it is better to stay safe than to go to dangerous place, and if you are put into a dangerous place, remember to keep calm like Mrs. Chicken. This story is very interesting to read and it also contains many teachable moments.

  20. The Mrs. Chicken story was a fairly simple tale. Most of the folk tales I remember growing up are origin stories, explaining some animal-related phenomenon, or trickster stories, e.g., the Anansi tales. Compared to those, I didn’t find the egg-switching plot to be quite as clever a trick, and the ending was a bit unexpected, explaining the origin(?) of chickens bathing in puddles. However, I did love the aftermath of the eggs hatching, where crocodile falls in love with her little babies and they switch them back. Crocodile and chicken’s hug is priceless.
    The art is fabulous, evoking its folksy origins while remaining unique. It definitely feels like a fantasy world, with lots of disorienting, curvy lines and simple/non-existent backgrounds, such that you’re not always certain where in space the characters are. I also like Melissa’s point about the emotions associated with the white and black backgrounds. It’s interesting that chicken’s beak and crocodile’s claws change between dark and light because of the changing backgrounds.

  21. Monique H. says:

    “Poetrees” is such a visually stunning book of poetry. I love the central theme that runs throughout its pages; the poems seem to both humanize trees and also to elevate them to the level of a deity (being that trees are the longest living creatures on earth). The background paintings are lovely and they, along with the stylistic ways that the text of the poems are printed, complement the actual poems really well.

    [Also, apropos of nothing, after reading “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile” and trying to think of the lesson of the story, the chorus of TLC’s song “Waterfalls” immediately came to mind: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…”]

  22. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms is a book that allows children to explore an assortment of poetry so that they appreciate how diverse poems can be. I feel as though poetry is often thought of in terms of rhyming patterns, however this book demonstrates that poems come a variety of shapes and sizes, quite literally, with the inclusion of concrete poems, limericks, haikus, along with 26 other types. It was fun to see the various styles and how they were similar and different. Also, when poems had specific syllable patterns, a small graphic at the top of the page visually represented the pattern, such as a line of five flowers, a line of seven flowers, and a final line of 5 flowers. A short description of the poem type was also included. Overall I found the book to be a great option for having students explore and engage with how diverse poetry can be. In the classroom, it could be used to give students agency in selecting the time of poem they want to write.

    I also really enjoyed the folktale Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, and I see it as a great opportunity to make predictions and take perspective on each character’s actions. I am excited to talk more about folktales this week in class!

  23. Amanda MacMillan says:

    Similar to the previous comments about Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, I also very much enjoyed reading this book and looking at the beautiful illustrations. What I particularly appreciated about this book is the little blurb at the beginning, titled “About the Story.” This brief passage explains how the storyline of this book is taken from a traditional story from the Dan people of northeast Liberia. Not only does this give proper acknowledgement to the origins of this story, but sharing this section of the text with children may also spark imagination and foster curiosity for children who do not know much about this culture or part of the world. I can remember reading as a child and always finding myself to be fascinated by a story that was “true” or that had come from another part of the world.

  24. Much like Melissa and Phil, I enjoyed “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile” and thought it was an interesting addition to the trickster tale sub-genre of folk-tales. I particularly enjoyed the illustrations, which reminded me somewhat of Aboriginal dream-time illustrations with their curves, swirls, and dots.

    I also liked the fact that the story seemed designed to explain why birds play in puddles, a common sight for most young children that no doubt elicits questions such as “Why do birds take baths in puddles?” This book would provide an interesting and imaginative response to the above question.

  25. Katherine Hu says:

    I really liked the concept of Glass Slipper and Gold Sandal. Like some people said above, i wonder if there is a way to integrate more of the culture into the text and the storyline, since it follows a pretty typical cinderella story. However, the pictures are absolutely incredible, and are really stunning. I like that the illustrator chose to use the same style for all the cultures, so that even though each image has different details, it shows all cultures in the same, equal light.

  26. I loved this unit this week! I especially loved Glass Slipper, Gold Slipper; I loved the textile nature of the illustrations, and I appreciated the premise, which sought to interweave the overarching Cinderella story across cultures. I’m impressed that the text reads so seamlessly, and I appreciated that the lesser known versions of the story were brought to the forefront. Are there other fairy tales that have been presented in that way? Because I would love to read them!!

    Separately, I enjoyed the Purposeful Poetry article. I have often wondered, perhaps because of my early education background, which definitely did not emphasize poetry reading or writing, how to instruct children in that area, and the article definitely shed light on different ways to do that effectively.

  27. Nana Seiwaa Sekyere says:

    I also enjoyed reading “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile” like other people did. I agree with Alex and Phil that the point of the story is to explain why birds bathe in puddles. It reminds me of stories I heard growing up in Ghana that always had some lesson to be learned in the end or provided a reason why things were the way they were.
    I feel like it’s a great book to engage kids because teachers or parents can formulate many questions around the plot like: What do children think will happen to Mrs. Chicken? How is she going to prove that she and the crocodile are sisters?

  28. Paul B. Janeczko, who was born in New Jersey in 1945, has been an editor of anthologies since the 1970s and an author in his own right since the 1980s. He has published his own poetry, two novels, and nonfiction texts; between his editing and original writing, Janeczko has published nearly 40 books over approximately 30 years. He currently resides in Hebron, Maine. Prior to immersing himself in his writing career in 1990, Janeczko worked as a high school English teacher for 22 years.

    Though he started out life as a reluctant student, noting on his personal website that he “didn’t like school. I did as little homework as possible. I participated in class only under duress from the nuns,” he credits sports writing and the _Hardy Boys_ series with piquing his interest in the written word. In college and graduate school, Janeczko notes that he truly “discover[ed] the joy and value of reading.”

    I encourage you to read his “biography” as presented on his own website (; instead of the factual narratives that many other authors offer, Janeczko responds to an eclectic series of questions that give a sense of his personality, from practical advice for those interested in a writing career to his tastes in music and television.

    Janeczko’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Library Association Books for Young Adults, American Library Association Notable Books, New York Public Library Best Books, and School Library Journal Best Young Adult Books of the Year. He continues to engage with educators and writers of all ages through school appearances and workshops.

    Personal website:

  29. I also really enjoyed reading “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile.” The illustrations were vibrant against the black and white backgrounds. Sometimes the design was also effective. The text was sometimes organized to reflect the curvature of the crocodile’s back. I always enjoy reading wavy sentences in children’s books. I think this concept of outsmarting others by pretending we are related to them is a very interesting idea. There is a similar folklore in Korea where a man outsmarts a tiger into believing that the two are biological brothers. It reminded me of the tales of my childhood.

  30. I always found using poetry as a teaching tool a little daunting because I never really learned how to access dense poetry myself. It remained inaccessible for me because I was an English language learner. As a child trying to learn English, I would often completely miss the puns and misunderstand metaphors/similes. I never learned to appreciate the rhymes and the music of the words. It wasn’t until university that I “re-discovered” poetry; however, I’m still learning how to overcome some of these struggles…

  31. I really enjoy reading the funny story ‘Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile’. I read this story for my 3-year-old son. He kept asking me to repeat the story again and again. After reading this story several times, I have a better understanding about Lolly’s comment that folklore needs to be read aloud in order to really appreciate them. When I read the story aloud with some tones or accents changes, my son enjoyed the story much more than he did when I read the story with low and plain voices.
    I also like the illustrations of this book. For example, after reading the book for the first time, I felt that the hungry crocodile really looked stupid even without knowing the story. At first I did not get how the illustrator created the stupid image for the crocodile. Later I noticed that the author created this effect by making lots of changes for the eyes of the crocodile on different pages.

  32. Santi Dewa Ayu says:

    Susan Dove Lempke’s May/June 2005 Horn Book article, “Purposeful Poetry”, emphasized the growing demand for poems that fit within or match a specific curriculum. Although these types of purposeful poems can make for effective learning tools to bolster the subject material, I agree that they can detract from learning about and genuinely appreciating poetry itself. There has been a growing desire in education to quantify learning; this enhanced dependance on data to validate and process is evident in the need to have art serve a specific purpose other than being art. It was almost painful to read this article as I can relate to feeling pressure to have my art be something beyond what I feel it to be. I also agree that we should give youth more credit and not assume that they only care to read humorous poems; this was another reminder that marketing can deeply drive content.

  33. Liza Raino-Ogden says:

    I absolutely loved Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile. It was very reminiscent of other trickster tales, like “Doctor De Soto,” which was one of my favorites growing up. While I do agree that it is a bit of a “pourquoi story,” as my mother used to say, I think the reason why this book is so successful is not that it explains why chickens sit in puddles, but rather that it shows how everything is connected. Perhaps I am more attune to this now as we are facing these next four years, but what was really interesting to me what how the story showed that the chicken was able to show the crocodile how they were similar–they were both soon-to-be mothers–and convince her that they were not only connected, but sisters (despite how far apart they are on the food chain). This is an important message, especially these days as we are trying to find ways to connect despite how far apart we are on the political spectrum. I also enjoyed the simplistic drawings, as they added innocence to the story in spite of the danger Mrs. Chicken was in.

  34. I’ve always been intrigued by how many folktales and classic stories there are across many different cultures, and “Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal,” presents a unique display of all of them in one story. I know that many teachers incorporate different versions of the Cinderella story throughout their instruction. This book would be a welcome addition, and could be used to introduce a unit, or literature study on similar stories set in different countries. I think the presentation of all the different versions in one story really helps the reader notice the subtle differences, such as what the Cinderella wore, how she got to the ball, etc. These subtle differences can open up deep discussions on different cultures, what they value, and how we can learn from them.

  35. I also liked “Mrs Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile” – it is a very memorable tale with a very satisfying ending where Mrs Chicken tells her children that the puddle is “big enough for us” and “much too small for crocodiles” ties nicely back to the beginning of the tale. However, I’m not entirely convinced about the rest of the tale because whilst Mrs Chicken outsmarts the crocodile, I feel that Mrs Chicken is a bit too cunning and poor crocodile! The colourful illustrations are childlike and classic which works well with the text.

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