Fairy and Folk Tale Fun: February 2016 Primary K-2

January 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | February

grandma and the great gourdGrandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerFolktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Traveling through the jungle in India to visit her daughter, an old woman named Grandma meets a fox, a bear, and a tiger in turn. She convinces them each she’s far too skinny to eat. “See how bony I am? I’ll be a lot juicier on my way back from my daughter’s house.” For the return journey, her daughter seals Grandma inside a giant gourd to keep her safe and gives her a push. She rolls through the jungle, encountering each animal once again. “I’m just a rolling gourd, singing my song. Won’t you give me a push and help me along?” It almost works. But the fox finally figures out Grandma’s inside. That’s when Grandma’s loyal dogs come to the rescue. A lively retelling of a traditional, humorous Bengali tale is distinguished by many fresh examples of onomatopoeia (dhip-dhip, khut-khut-khut, gar-gar, gar-gar), not to mention a strong, smart, clever main character. The vibrant illustrations are distinctively stylized. Steeped in warm, bright colors, they incorporate an array of decorative patterns into the backgrounds.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out these resources for Grandma and the Great Gourd from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What three animals does Grandma meet on her way through the forest?
  2. What problems does Grandma need to solve? How does she solve them?
  3. How do Grandma’s dogs help her?
  4. How might this story be different in a different setting? Give an example of a different setting and resulting story.

Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya. little rojaIllustrated by Susan Guevara. Putnam, 2014.

Richly flavored with Spanish words and Latino cultural details, this retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” is also full of spirit and good humor. Young Roja is suspicious of the wolf that questions her in the woods on the way to her Abuela’s, but doesn’t notice him stealing off with her red capa and hood when she stops to pick flores for her ailing grandmother. The wolf, meanwhile, arrives at Grandma’s in disguise, but Grandma (working on her laptop while in bed) only pretends to be fooled. Armed with a religious statue, she’s joined by Roja, who arrives in time to swing la canasta of hot soup at the beast. Susan Middleton Elya’s retelling is a masterful—and delightful—rhyming narrative. Susan Guevara’s watercolor, ink and gouache illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, providing not only visual context for Spanish words and greater cultural context for this version of the story, but also full of funny details, including a cast of characters from other traditional folktales, most notable the three blind mice who accompany Roja on her journey.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out helpful resources for Little Roja Riding Hood from TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Have you read other versions of Little Red Riding? What is similar and different in this version?
  2. The duendes are in many of the illustrations. What do you notice about them?
  3. How do the illustrations help to tell the story? What do the illustrations tell you about Little Roja, her mother and her grandmother?

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