Cover image for How & why stories : world tales kids can read & tell
How & why stories : world tales kids can read & tell
Hamilton, Martha.
Publication Information:
Little Rock, Ark. : August House Pub., 1999.
Physical Description:
96 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
A collection of twenty-five traditional stories explaining why an animal or plant or natural object looks or acts the way it does. Following each story are storytelling tips and short modern, scientific explanations for the subject of the story.
Reading Level:
830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 3.0 48674.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1 .H8645 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Did you ever look carefully at a spider's web? If their purpose is strictly to catch flies, why do spiders weave such beautiful, intricate webs? Did you ever wonder what causes thunder? Why is the sea salty? How did tigers get their stripes? In this collection of delightful tales from around the world and through the ages, each story explains why an animal, plant, or natural object looks or acts the way it does.

Author Notes

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss are "Beauty and the Beast Storytellers," a husband-wife team who began telling stories together in 1980. They have presented storytelling performances and workshops at schools, libraries, coffee-houses, museums, festivals, and conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe They are based in Ithaca, New York.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5 and up, younger for reading aloud. Why is the sea salty? Why do cats wash their paws after eating? How did tigers get their stripes? With 25 lively pourquoi (how and why) stories from everywhere, this is not only a resource for storytellers but also an informal guide to encourage kids to tell the stories themselves. The accessible introduction talks about the folklore and raises crucial questions about why so many similar stories exist across cultures. Whether the folktale is Chinese, Cherokee Indian, Nigerian, Norwegian, African American, or whatever, the storytelling is all in the same voice: immediate, casual, friendly, but also, generic. However, the particular sources are discussed and other versions are listed in detail. What's excellent here, for libraries and classroom connections, are the hands-on "tips for telling." There's a general afterword about how to choose, learn, and tell stories (Don't get in the way of the story. Vary your voice. Don't be afraid of silence). Best of all is the practical advice with each individual story, including suggestions for particular gestures, pacing, sounds, and movements to help listeners see pictures in their minds. --Hazel Rochman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-A collection of 25 pourquoi tales intended for young storytellers. The authors address readers' possible feelings of apprehension, but encourage them to at least try storytelling-for most satisfying rewards. The selections span the globe, with general notes identifying their origins and more detailed source notes provided in the bibliography. The format is consistent: the story is presented, followed by a brief explanation of the scientific process that the tale explains, and some helpful tips for telling it. Suggestions include tone of voice and specific gestures to use. The majority of the stories deal with explaining certain animal behaviors, but other subjects are included. The book concludes with general tips on selecting, learning, and telling a story. Each tale has at least one black-and-white line drawing. Similar in scope to Ann Pellowski's The Storytelling Handbook (S & S, 1995), which has more information about getting involved with storytelling, as well as selection and preparation, Hamilton and Weiss's book provides more assistance for telling the individual tales included. A useful book for anyone eager to learn the storytelling process.-Elizabeth Maggio, Palos Verdes Library District, Rolling Hills Estates, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 10
Where the Stories Come From (Map)p. 12
How and Why Stories
Thunder and Lightning (Nigeria (Ibibio))p. 15
How Tigers Got Their Stripes (Vietnam)p. 18
Why Bat Flies Alone At Night (U.S. (Modoc Indian))p. 21
The Mill at the Bottom of the Sea (Korea)p. 23
Why Cats Wash Their Paws After Eating (Europe)p. 26
Why Ants Are Found Everywhere (Burma)p. 28
Why Frog and Snake Never Play Together (Cameroon/Nigeria (Ekoi))p. 30
Why the Baby Says "Goo" (U.S. (Penobscot Indian))p. 33
Why the Farmer and the Bear Are Enemies (Russia)p. 36
Why Hens Scratch in the Dirt (Philippines)p. 38
Why the Sun Comes Up When Rooster Crows (China)p. 41
Why Dogs Chase Cats (U.S. (African-American))p. 44
The Dancing Brothers (U.S. (Onondaga Indian))p. 46
The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking (India)p. 49
The Story of Arachne (Greece)p. 51
Rabbit Counts the Crocodiles (Japan)p. 54
The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean (Germany)p. 57
How Brazilian Beetles Got Their Gorgeous Coats (Brazil)p. 59
The Quarrel (U.S. (Cherokee Indian))p. 62
Why Parrots Only Repeat What People Say (Thailand)p. 64
The Taxi Ride (Northern Ghana/Mauritania)p. 67
How Owl Got His Feathers (Puerto Rico)p. 69
Two Brothers, Two Rewards (China/Korea/Japan)p. 71
Why Bear Has a Stumpy Tail (Norway)p. 74
Where All Stories Come From (U.S. (Seneca Indian))p. 76
General Tips for Telling Storiesp. 79
Activitiesp. 87
Appendix Story Sourcesp. 91