Children’s Book Blog: The Greatest, Most Exciting Stories Ever Told: Tall Tales

[The “Book Blogs” are my love letter to children’s books.  My hope is to encourage parents to find joy in reading to their children.  I also want to promote the wonderful collection available through the Southborough Library.  These articles were my foray into My Southborough.  I’m still writing them for the Southborough Library website, and reprinting here with their permisssion.   For more of my book recommendations, click here.]

Did I ever tell you about the day I read to all the young uns in Southborough?

I was reading a book to my tots, when other kids at the library overheard me. Mesmerized, they surrounded me in awe. Their impressed parents held up their cell phones (against library policy) to let friends hear my expressive storytelling. Suddenly, mothers left pots boiling on the stove, fathers stopped coaching playoffs in mid-game, pulling their children off the field. . .

OK, it’s possible I’m exaggerating. Maybe even the whole thing is a figment of my imagination.

I guess that’s what happens when you read as many tall tales as I have this month.

The fantastic exaggerations and colorful expressions in tall tales make for fun reading. Larger than life heroes capture imaginations of boys and offer strong role models for girls. Most of my favorites aren’t technically the tall tales of American folklore. But they capture the essence of the storytelling style.

  • Jerdine Nolen’s Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm* is the tale that first captured my attention on this subject. There is something enchanting about the way the rural American narrator recounts these fantastic imaginings. It’s the voice of a true storyteller, and made me yearn for more. She also wrote the wonderful Raising Dragons and Thunder Rose*.
  • Some of the tall tale books about famous figures try to fit in too many of the stories. They sacrifice real story telling in the process. Teresa Bateman’s Paul Bunyan vs. Hals Halson: The Giant Lumberjack Challenge! tells an entertaining Paul Bunyan story by focusing on one incident.
  • American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne covers nine of the most famous characters from American mythology. Somehow she packs in hundreds of anecdotes without making it monotonous.
  • Clever Beatrice by Margaret Willey is a cute story about a girl who outwits a giant into thinking she’s stronger than him.
  • Granite Baby by Lynne Bertrand is a fanciful story of giant sisters who are befuddled by a wailing infant. It takes a child to show them how their over the top talents need to be reigned in when caring for a baby.

*These books aren’t in the children’s room collection but are available through interlibrary loan.

As always, if you have any questions for me or suggestions for other parents, you can post a comment below.

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