Sunday, April 27, 2014
Very Short TALL TALES to Read Together, written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Michael Emberley. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2014. $19.00 ages 8 and up
That are both short and tall.
Both short and tall at once, you say?
I don't get that at all.
They're short because they are
Well, that is plain to see;
But how can they be tall as well?"
You are about to see just how that might happen. In their newest collaboration for children, the prolific Mary Ann Hoberman and the ingenious Michael Emberley are back with thirteen tall tales. An introduction helps with the story form:
"The tall tale is a unique form of American storytelling. Its heroes and heroines are larger than life, and their deeds are amazing. Some of these characters were actual people, while others were created out of whole cloth. In all the tales, exaggeration is primary, the more the better! And in their repeated retellings over the years, they have become an important part of our American literature."
On with the characters who people this book's pages, beginning with Annie Oakley. She is a legend who knew how to shoot accurately from when she was a small girl. The story tells of her move west, and her showing of these incredible skills to the folks who lived there. She happened to really impress one of them...Frank E. Butler. She also impressed many worldly people who came to see the Wild West Show, and her fame grew:
"Sitting Bull was struck with awe,
Was amazed at what he saw,
Made her an adopted Sioux,
Named her "Little Sure Shot," too."
As is the format for the other books from this series, the text is set up to be read by two voices. The text changes color to help readers determine which part is theirs to read...one printed in red, one in green. The part where both read together is purple. I have watched many children relish the joys of shared reading, starting with books just like this one.
The tall tales include Davy Crockett, John Henry, Slue-Foot Sue and Pecos Bill, Febold Feboldson, Johnny Appleseed, Alfred Bulltop Stormalong...and six more. I have heard of many; some are brand new to me. Their stories are surely entertaining, and often unbelievable.
"Davy Crockett's tales are mixed -
Parts are tall and parts are true;
But either one, they are all fun!
You read to me, I'll read to you."
The text is a bit more demanding than some of the previous volumes, and the stories more complex. That will not deter readers from sharing the fun with a partner, and wanting to share them with others as well. I think I have mentioned how perfect this type of reading is for performance assemblies. In teaching tall tales to others, you are also encouraging students to share their growing reading skills with their audience.