Fifteen brief folktales in which there is a mystery or problem that the reader is invited to solve before the resolution is presented.
In these three imaginative stories, Jan Andrews introduces us to Quebec’s traditional folktale hero, Ti-Jean. He’s an endearing character who is both wise and foolish, and though he does find himself in hard situations (often of his own making), in the end, he somehow manages to do what needs to be done. In “Ti-Jean and the Princess of Tomboso” he eventually outwits a greedy princess; in “Ti-Jean the Marble Player” he gets the best of a pint-sized scoundrel; and in “How Ti-Jean Became a Fiddler” he turns the tables on a too-clever-for-her-own-good seigneur’s daughter, and finds true love in the process.
A willy fox outwits Jaguar in three trickster tales set in the jungles of South America.
With the help of a blue crane, a mother dove rescues her babies from a not-so-clever jackal.
Khoikhoi, Southern Africa
To keep from being eaten, an inchworm measures a robin’s tail, a flamingo’s neck, a toucan’s beak, a heron’s legs, and a nightingale’s song.
The youngest of a merchant’s three sons proves that he is not as foolish as he was thought to be when he trades a sackful of onions for a fortune in diamonds.
Originally published: New York: Random House, 1967.
As a refugee from Sudan to the United States, Sangoel is frustrated that no one can pronounce his name correctly until he finds a clever way to solve the problem.
This book has been included in WOW’s Language and Learning: Children’s and Young Adult Fiction Booklist. For our current list, visit our Booklist page under Resources in the green navigation bar.
Like many before him, Tom, a traveling minstrel, has fallen in love at first sight with the beautiful princess Kathleen. But Kathleen has vowed only to marry the man who can win a leprechaun’s pot of gold. Tom sets out with a clever plan to fool a leprechaun into giving up his fortune. Upon meeting one of the fair folk, Tom charms him with songs and stories. As it turns out, however, Tom’s tales hold more truth than trick.
The ladies of Iceland have a problem: the birds lay their eggs in nooks on the sides of steep cliffs, so the ladies have a very difficult time getting any of the eggs for baking. They go to town to buy chickens to lay eggs for them instead. For a while, everyone is happy, and there are plenty of eggs to bake plenty of yummy things. But the ladies’ problems are far from solved, for the more time the chickens spend with the ladies, the more they begin to act like them too, until eventually they stop laying eggs all together. Now this is a problem indeed, but the clever ladies will find a solution.