Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Themed Reviews: Tall Tales

Tall Tales have long been a staple of American folk literature, often featuring stories of legendary figures such as Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, and John Henry. These stories, told as if they are factual, all have unbelievable elements. While some are exaggerations of actual events or persons, many are fictional tales. Also popular today are Original Tall Tales, most often set in contemporary settings but maintaining the same structure as a traditional tall tale.

Tall Tale Checklist:

•The story has many exaggerations in it.
•The main character has a problem to solve.
•The main character is bigger than life and has super-human abilities.
•The plot of the story is funny and impossible.
•In the end, the main character solves a problem, overcomes an obstacle and/or defeats a “bad guy.”
•The story includes lots of action.

(Taken from

Browse through these titles and those from previous years for some selections to share with your family or students.

The Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan: The Graphic Novel
Martin Powell
Illustrated by Aaron Blecha
The tall tale of Paul Bunyan is hilariously retold in graphic novel format, giving new life to the story of the biggest woodsmen who ever lived. In this retelling, Paul wears wagon wheels for shirt buttons, hires seven assistant woodsmen, all named Elmer, and pulls his companion, Babe, the blue ox, out of a frozen pond. He nurses Babe back to health and the two enormous pals make their way across the United States. Paul and Babe walk through Minnesota, and the footprints they leave become the state's famous ten thousand lakes. In the Tennessee hills, Paul stops to smoke his pipe, and the hills become known as the Smoky Mountains. In the far south, Paul and Babe help the residents rid themselves of “bee-skeeters,” which create the giant southern bayous. Finally, the two visit the desert, start roughhousing, and make the Grand Canyon. On their way back home, Paul wrestles with Old Man Winter, who has Minnesota completely buried in snow. Paul holds up Old Man Winter closer to the sun, where Old Man Winter melts and becomes Lake Superior. This loony depiction of the quintessential American tall tale is fun, funny, and likely to get the most reluctant reader more interested in both American history and geography. Also included in the book are a glossary, writing prompts, and discussion questions. It is recommended for ages 8 and up. 2010, Capstone Publishing Company, Ages 8 up, $22.65. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781434218971
ISBN: 9781434222688

1 comment:

  1. It seems like Tall Tales are not a popular as classroom stories as when I was a child. Too bad because they are fun to read and speak to American history in a fun way!

    Pragmatic Mom
    Type A Parenting for the Modern World
    I blog on children's lit, education and parenting.