Selected and annotated by Emily Bayci
Ash, Russell and Bernard Higton, ed. Aesop’s Fables. Chronicle Books, 1990.
95p. Gr. 1-3.
This compilation of Aesop’s classic fables contains illustrations from earlier compendia, with noteworthy illustrators including Randolph Caldecott, Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, and Alexander Calder. The carefully chosen full-page art exemplifies the meaning of the fables, which are written with simple and concise text.
Burkert, Rand. Mouse and Lion; illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. di Capua/Scholastic, 2011. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
This adaption of Aesop’s classic fable about a mouse saving the lion in the forest takes on a new meaning with intricate pencil art inscribing every delicate detail. The text’s warmth makes the book suitable for a readaloud, but the illustrations are what make this one shine.
Bryan, Ashley. Lion and the Ostrich Chicks, and Other African Folk Tales. Atheneum, 1986. 86p. Gr. 4-6.
A lesser-known story of African friendship, “The Lion and the Ostrich Chicks” is the headline for these four creative African folk tales. The catchy wordplay and rhyme makes this an interactive storytelling selection, where even the reluctant will feel encouraged to join in.
Carle, Eric. Eric Carle’s Treasury of Classic Stories for Children by Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Orchard/Watts, 1988. 152p. 5-8 yrs.
A lesser-known Aesop’s fable, “The Wolf and the Lamb,” is included in this collection of 22 folk tales, fairy tales and fables. A wolf accuses a lamb of various offenses to justify taking its life. Despite the lamb’s innocence, the wolf still kills it. The sobering tale is illustrated with blended collage and paint pictures in Carle’s distinctive style.
Day, Nancy Raines. The Lion’s Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale; illus. by Ann Grifalconi. Scholastic, 1995. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
In this tale from the Amhara people of Ethiopia, a patient woman uses her experience with a wild lion to win the love of her new stepson. The mixed-media illustrations have a three-dimensional effect with textured papers, photographs, and cloth used to create a striking scene.
Fox, Mem. Hello Baby!; illus. by Steve Jenkins. Beach Lane, 2009. 32p. 3-5 yrs.
A baby encounters a variety of young animals, including a clever monkey, a hairy warthog, and a dusty lion cub, before discovering the most precious creature of all. The rhyming couplets offer basic descriptions of animals and can be a fun and quick read for playtime or bedtime.
Green, Ellin. The Little Golden Lamb; illus by Rosanne Litzinger. Clarion Books, 2000. 32p. 4-8 yrs.
A Hungarian retelling of a beloved tale, “The Golden Goose,” this depicts a flute-playing shepherd boy and a lamb with golden fur. The lamb causes everybody who touches it to stick together, creating a ridiculous sight that brings unity and laughter. The parade of characters and repetitive language will surely create an engaging storytelling experience.
Hale, Sarah Josepha. Mary Had a Little Lamb; illus. by Salley Mavor. Orchard, 1995. 26p. 2-5 yrs.
The classic nursery rhyme takes a lesser-known turn as readers learn the complete words to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and discover what unfolds after the lamb follows Mary to school. The combination of vintage-inspired illustrations and multiple versions of the rhyme provide for a unique bedtime read.
Howe, John. The Knight with the Lion: The Story of Yvain. Brown, 1996. 32p. Gr. 4-6.
This retelling of a twelfth-century romance relates the story of Yvain, "the bravest and most gentle knight of all King Arthur's court." Yvain persuades his capturer, Ludine, to marry him, and in just a few days he loses his wife, wins her back, loses his mind, and gains that back. The action-packed story with a complex plot is beautifully illustrated with golden-age images of knights, horses, dragons and lions.
Keding, Dan. The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Western States. Libraries Unlimited, 2010. 290p. Gr. 5-9.
This collection collects true stories and legends from western states. The lion is portrayed in a unique light in two Hispanic tales, “The Faithful Lion” and “The Eagle and the Lion.” Strong language and vivid imagery helps readers view a different, gentler side of the typically intimidating lion character.
Macdonald, Margaret Read. Conejito: A Folktale from Panama; illus. by Geraldo
Valerio. August House, 2006. 32p. 3-6 yrs.
In this folktale from Panama, a little rabbit and his Tía Monica outwit a fox, a tiger, and a lion, all of whom want to eat him for lunch. Spanish words are interwoven into the text and the bright paintings make for a delightful read. Listeners will want to sing, dance, and eat along with Conejito.
McPhail, David. Pig Pig Meets the Lion. Charlesbridge, 2012. 28p. 4-6 yrs.
A lion escapes from the zoo and climbs up to Pig Pig’s window. The two become fast friends and romp through the house, but eventually the zookeepers come to reclaim the lion. The bright illustrations brilliantly convey the delightful adventure Pig Pig and lion have until their farewell.
Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion and the Mouse. Little, Brown and Co, 2009. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
This wordless retelling of the well-known Aesop fable, in which an adventuresome mouse proves that small creatures are capable of great deeds, features full-bleed watercolor illustrations. The wordless approach allows audiences to create their own captions and encourages them to take specific note of the animals’ actions.
Reneaux, J.J. How Animals Saved the People: Animal Tales from the South; illus. by James Ransome. Morrow, 2001. 64p. Gr 3-6.
This collection of eight stories from the Deep South features a variety tales about animals interacting with humans and one another. The combination of highly textured images and an engaging voice provide many selections for an animal storytime.
Reynolds, Aaron. Carnivores; illus. by Dan Santat. Chronicle, 2013. 34 p. 5-7 yrs.
Lion, Great White Shark, and Timberwolf, troubled by their bad reputations with the other animals, form a support group in which they attempt to be vegetarians. The wise great horned owl gives them some sage advice, and they return to a life being carnivores. This sassy story could be a quality warm-up for any animal-themed storytelling adventure.
Watson, Mary & Pete. The Heart of the Lion. Shenanigan, 2005. 32p. Gr. 4-7.
This deep-thinking picture book depicts the internal landscape of a young white American boy living in West Africa. The boy’s journal entries discuss individual lessons and interesting experiences. The book can work as a discussion prompt, and individual vignettes could be used as great stories to tell.
Wildsmith, Brian. The Lion and the Rat. Oxford, 1999. 32p, Gr.4-7.
This retelling of the La Fontaine fable about a rat saving a lion from a deathly fate is yet another example about how small individuals can be capable of great tasks. The basic language and illustration allows this to be easily told, and props such as puppets could add dimension.
Williams, Marcia. The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India. Candlewick, 2012. 40p. Gr. 4-7.
A prevalent character in Indian folklore, the lion is typically typecast as the greedy king of the jungle, as in “The Foolish Lion,” where a greedy lion eats more than his share of the animals of the forest, so the other animals devise a plan for survival and revenge. Williams’ comic-strip style panel sequences add sophistication and humor to these eight retold Indian tales.