The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
American Tall Tales - June 2012

Selected and annotated by Anna Holland


Abrahams, Roger D. Afro-American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World. Pantheon, 1985. 327p.
Traditional African fables find new purpose and life in the New World. This collection repurposes 107 tales, including a mix of humorous, trickster, and “just-so” stories from the South, Caribbean villages, and contemporary America. 

Blair, Walter. Tall Tale America: A Legendary History of Our Humorous Heroes. Coward-McCann, 1944. 262p.
Humorous and completely untrue, this collection features the most colorful American legends.  Blair rewrites American history, beginning with the founding of America, the invention of the prairie dog, and even the enlistment of infamous heroes of American folklore in World War II.

Botkin, B. A. A Treasury of American Folklore: Stories, Ballads, and Traditions of the People. Crown, 1944. 932p.
A hefty anthology of more than 600 stories, songs, jests, and anecdotes from the North, South, East, and West! The biggest, baddest, strongest American heroes and outlaws,--Davy Crockett, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Paul Bunyan, and Johnny Appleseed, to name a few-- make this collection wild fun.

Bowman, James Cloyd. Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time. Albert Whitman, 1937. 296p.
Dropped off the back of a covered wagon and raised by coyotes, Pecos Bill grew up to become the greatest cowboy of not just the West, but of all time. When you read this title full of cowboy swagger, rollicking good adventure, and American myth, you can see why Bowman won a Newbery Honor in 1938 for Pecos Bill.

Chase, Richard. Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales. Houghton Mifflin, 2003. 222p.
Collected by Appalachian storyteller Richard Chase, these twenty-four tales originated overseas.  After being adapted and passed down for generations in the North Carolina and Virginia mountain regions, though, these versions are now thoroughly American folk tales.    

Emberley, Barbara. The Story of Paul Bunyan. Pretice-Hall, 1967. 32p.
There’s more than enough room in this book for giant lumberjack legend Paul Bunyan, and his equally giant blue ox, Babe, and their improbable adventures. Duo-toned woodcut illustrations fully capture the rustic, woodland charm of the timberlands and the sweet friendship between Paul and Babe.

Felton, Harold W. New Tall Tales of Pecos Bill. Prentice-Hall, 1958. 164p.
Notorious six-gun slinger, cowpuncher, and cyclone breaker Pecos Bill is at again, with all-new wild and previously untold tales of his courageous adventures.

Field, Rachel. American Folk and Fairy Tales. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929. 302p.
Compiled by Rachel Field, this collection of American folktales has six categories of stories: Indian legends, African-American tales, Louisiana folk tales, stories about Tony Beaver and Paul Bunyan, and Southern mountain tall tales. Includes black and white and color illustrations.

Jagendorf, M. A. Folk Stories of the South. Vanguard, 1972. 355p.
Former New York Folklore Society president M. A. Jagendorf shares an assortment of well-known and not-so-known Southern tales from the Confederate States with lengthy source notes.

Keding, Dan. The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Eastern States. Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 290p.
Storyteller and GSLIS instructor Dan Keding compiles a richly collected anthology in two volumes of state tales from all fifty states, featuring recognizable characters and events in each volume. John Henry, Davy Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, Babe the Blue Ox, Abraham Lincoln, Yankee Doodle, and many more legends are found in Eastern States. Includes source notes and index.

Keding, Dan.The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Western States. Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 254p.
Storyteller and GSLIS instructor Dan Keding compiles a richly collected anthology in two volumes of state tales from all fifty states, featuring recognizable characters and events in each volume. Kit Carson, the story of American Gothic, Paul Bunyan, Choctaw Codetalkers of WWI, and many more legends are found in Western States. Includes source notes and index.

Leach, Maria. The Rainbow Book of American Folk Tales and Legends. World Publishing, 1958. 318p.
An anthology of well-known tall tale legends and American state lore broken down state by state and into genres such as scary stories, local legends, strange tales, or bad men. Content even includes some Native American, South American, and Mexican tales in addition to source notes, bibliography, and index.

Lisker, Tom. Tall Tales: American Myths. Raintree, 1977. 48p.
A slim illustrated volume of four of the American greats: Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Davy Crockett.

McCormick, Dell J. Paul Bunyan Swings His Axe. Caxton, 1990. 111p.
Straight from the logging camps of Washington and Idaho, McCormick brings 17 authentic stories of the great giant logger himself, Paul Bunyan. Retold for children, these illustrated legends are sure to have kids captivated.

Mood, Terry Ann. American Regional Folklore: A Sourcebook and Research Guide. ABC-CLIO, 2004. 476p.
A wealth of storytelling resources and research tips by state and region! Aimed at students of folklore, this sourcebook provides helpful guidance in doing library, in-person, and online story research.

Osborne, Mary Pope. American Tall Tales. Knopf, 1991. 115p.
Complete with historical headnotes, colorful wood engravings, and 19th-century storytelling, these nine comically exaggerated tales of America’s folk heroes blend tradition with new twists.

Schwartz, Alvin. Whoppers: Tall Tales and Other Lies Collected from American Folklore. Harper & Row, 1990. 127p.
Brimming with outrageous gallyfloppers and whoppers, this book claims to be nothing but a pack of lies—145 to be exact. Whoppers is a mighty funny collection of American tall tales with bibliography, “source notes & related lies,” and silly ink illustrations.

Shapiro, Irwin. Heroes in American Folklore. Julian Messner, 1975. 256p.
Five American folklore heroes-- Casey Jones, Old Stormalong, John Henry, Steamboat Bill, and Joe Magarac-- are the stars in this black and white illustrated anthology.

Stoutenburg, Adrien. American Tall Tales. Viking, 1966. 112p.
Stoutenburg provides another collection of American tall tale bests. Here, Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Stormalong, Mike Fink, Davy Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, and Joe Magarac are each featured.

Turney, Ida Virginia. Paul Bunyan: The Work Giant. Binfords & Mort, 1941. 80p.
Paul Bunyan fans will likely enjoy these 39 short anecdotes about the giant logger, his blue ox, Babe, the invention of flapjacks, the breaking plow, and the (sometimes accidental) creation of North Woods geography.

Wood, Ray. The American Mother Goose. J. B. Lippincott, 1968. 109p.
As pioneers set out across the West, so too did the newly Americanized folklore and rhymes they sang and told for their children, collected here in this self-proclaimed American counterpart to English Mother Goose rhymes.

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