Cover image for Silly and sillier : read aloud tales from around the world
Silly and sillier : read aloud tales from around the world
Sierra, Judy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf, 2002.
Physical Description:
86 pages ; 29 cm
A compilation of folktales from twenty different cultures, each of which contains elements suited to storytelling for young children.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.1 2.0 67742.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.S573 SI 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
PZ8.1.S573 SI 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.S573 SI 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.S573 SI 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.S573 SI 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This big, beautiful book offers 20 favorite tales from around the world that will tickle the funnybone of young listeners. While most of the tales are totally new to Americans and come from countries as far flung as Iran and Italy, the Bahamas and Borneo, children will be delighted to discover some tales with themes similar to their favorites, such as "Rumpelstiltskin" and "The Three Little Pigs." The brief, lickety-split retellings beg to be read aloud and the nearly 90 lively, colorful illustrations invite children to look at the book again and again.

Author Notes

Judy Sierra is the author of Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, Antarctic Antics, and Monster Goose . Valeri Gorbachev is the author-artist of Nicky and the Big, Bad Wolves and other Nicky books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS^-Gr. 2. "Verrrry slowly she untied the leopard's tail." With lots of rhythmic chanting nonsense and repetition, these folktales from 20 countries are great for reading aloud and joining in. Sierra points out that some stories appeal to kids everywhere, especially those about powerful adults who behave like idiots and small creatures who triumph over monsters. The characters in Gorbachev's zestful line-and-watercolor illustrations are mainly animals, including a yellow chicken, an agile monkey, and a wily fox, and they connect many stories. Some of the best stories turn up in many places, and it's fun to see trickster tales from across the world; the tale "Juan Bobo" from Argentina is much like "Silly Jack." The large size of the book, with clear type and funny pictures on every page, will help storytellers share the laughter. Unfortunately, Sierra mistakenly attributes the Masai story to South Africa instead of to Kenya, and although there's a long bibliography, there are no specific source notes. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this spirited collection, reteller Sierra (Nursery Tales from Around the World; and its sequel, Can You Guess My Name?: Traditional Tales Around the World, noted below) once again rounds up a bevy of brief, traditional tales. Here, 20 stories from countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Borneo, Mexico and the Czech Republic range from some that will be entirely new to youngsters to riffs on familiar yarns (among them a Russian variation on the tale of a mitten that expands to shelter woodland animals, and a cumulative Irish tale with a refrain akin to that of The Gingerbread Man). In the volume's funniest offering, "Juan Bobo" from Argentina, a simpleton inadvertently wins the hand of a princess. Gorbachev (Nicky and the Big, Bad Wolves) utilizes her signature renderings of animals endowed with bold personalities to great effect here. Vignettes build the tension in "The Wonderful Pancake" as various pursuers join the fray, while a two-thirds-page spot illustration captures the climactic moment when "Bear Squash-You-All-Flat" bursts the mitten in the Russian story. Balancing nonsense capers and trickster tales, Sierra occasionally integrates words from the language of the country of origin. Though several selections seem a bit slight, well-timed repetition, alliteration, sound effects and copious dialogue from a variety of characters make most of the stories lively choices for reading-aloud. Gorbachev's animated illustrations reflect the international settings and reinforce the playfulness of the tales. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Sierra has tapped into the rich canon of multicultural folktales to select 20 stories from around the globe. In "A Note to Parents and All Storytellers," she gives background information about the selections, as well as helpful hints for using them. The smooth, reader-friendly retellings, with generous doses of onomatopoeia, chants, and repetition, provide ample opportunity for a creative delivery. Gorbachev's plentiful pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations complete the experience with scenes of highly expressive characters engaged at key points in each story. Whether it's Jabuti the sly turtle riding on the back of Mr. Jaguar in "Jabuti and Jaguar Go Courting" or the selfish and lazy koala in "The Koala and the Kangaroo," the art rises to the same level of silliness found in the text. At the heart of each story is a good-natured lesson in which good is rewarded; sloth and greed are not. Children will discover that these themes of justice are as universal as laughter. This collection will elicit plenty of giggles, whether shared at bedtime, in a story- hour, or in a classroom setting.-Carol L. MacKay, Camrose Public Library, Alberta, Canada (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



A NOTE TO PARENTS, TEACHERS AND ALL STORYTELLERS Here is a collection of the world's funniest stories to read aloud to children ages three to seven. These traditional tales, ones that have been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, come from twenty countries and six continents. For at least as long as people have kept written records, we know that parents and grandparents have told children stories about talking animals, magic, and monsters. Nowadays, teachers and librarians join family members in recounting these sorts of tales to children. What tickles a young child's funny bone? Repetition, in and of itself, can be hilarious to children. Talking objects, like the stick and the fire in "Toontoony Bird," a tale from Bangladesh, provoke giggles. And so do unusual -sounding nonsense words, like the name of the witch, Koolimasunder W Diamondpaw, in "Clever Mandy," a tale from the Bahamas. When these words and names and phrases arc repeated for the second or third time, children will delight in saying them right along with you. But these seemingly silly tales are also offering important lessons. Good is rewarded and wrongdoing is punished. The smallest and least significant creatures prove to be the most helpful friends-or the most fearsome enemies. Cleverness and trickery are important tools of the small and weak, but they must never be used thoughtlessly. The lowly tortoise in the Nigerian tale "The Tortoise and the Iroko Man," who tricks innocent bystanders into taking his punishment, is himself punished by having his smooth shell cracked for all eternity. These tales reinforce a child's strong sense of justice while providing a glimpse into other lands and cultures. In most of the tales in this collection, the weakest animal or the smallest child triumphs through cleverness, kindness, and persistence. And, probably because grandparents and other elders were frequently the family's storytellers, some of the stories have old men and old women as the heroes and heroines. Children love to hear accounts of powerful adults, terrible monsters, and dangerous animals who behave like complete idiots. Stories reveal harmless fools for what they are, but evil fools are punished, or tricked into punishing themselves, like the giant who begs the tiny mouse deer to tie him up in "Too Many Fish," a tale from Borneo. Part of the fun of sharing stories from far-flung regions of the world is discovering the ways in which they are similar to favorite stories we've long known. I've included a tale from the Bahamas that resembles "Rumpelstiltskin." In it Clever Mandy must guess the name of a witch or be her servant forever. A Czech rooster named Kuratko the Terrible devours a series of bigger and bigger people, objects, and animals, much like the infamous old lady who swallowed a fly. The Irish tale "The Wonderful Pancake" begins like "The Little Red Hen, but when the hen and her lazy housemates start to argue over who will eat the pancake, the little pancake jumps out of the pan, runs away, and has an adventure like that of the Gingerbread Man. Storytellers in many cultures use short, formulaic beginnings and endings for their tales, like our "once upon a time." I have included these with stories whenever possible. The beginning formula lets listeners know that the story that follows, though true on one level, is make-believe. The Irish tale "The Wonderful Pancake" happened "once upon a time, when pigs were swine and birds made their nests in old men's beards." The opening formula, yaki boud, yaki na boud (once there was and once there was not), used in "The Singing Pumpkin," our Iranian tale, conveys perfectly the idea that stories are both true and untrue. Ending formulas return the listener to the real world, sometimes by passing the role of storyteller to the next person, as in the Argentine "Zapatito roto, y usted me cuenta otro. Little broken shoe, the next tale comes from you." Zestful dramatization will make these stories even more fun for young listeners. There are rhymes and chants that want to be sung. There are gullible giants, sneaky tricksters, annoying bugs, pompous kings, and small heroes and heroines who beg that you portray them with booming voices, squeaky voices, or just plain silly voices. The words and chants in the stories are often onomatopoeic, more sound than sense, and defy translation. I have left many in the original language. You and your listeners can invent your own pronunciations for these foreign words and your own melodies for the rhymes, chants, and jingles. In doing so, you will make these tales truly your own. Enjoy! -Judy Sierra September 2002 Excerpted from Silly and Sillier: Read-Aloud Tales from Around the World by Judy Sierra All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.