“Just ‘cause it’s a tall tale don’t mean it ain’t true.” Jonas Hackett (Pecos Bill)
Your kids will delight in the tales told in these picture books!
Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants. Tony Johnston. Harcourt, 2011.
Definitely a whopper, but with a thread of truth. Pun intended! This story of how Strauss invented blue jeans for gold miners who wore barrels or vanilla (their birthday suits) when their pants wore out and created the city of San Francisco, is a delight to read-aloud. Dang! The author’s note at the end supplies the facts about Levi Strauss.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade
Pirate vs. Pirate: The Terrific Tale of a Big, Blustery, Maritime Match. Mary Quattlebaum. Disney/Hyperion, 2011.
Bad Bart, the burliest pirate and Mean Mo, the baddest girl pirate hold a series of increasingly difficult contests to determine who is the best pirate in the world. A rip-roaring tale full of action and a little romance. Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade
Apples to Oregon : Being the (slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and children) Across the Plains. Deborah Hopkinson. Atheneum, 2004.
Loosely based on the life of Henderson Luelling who brought his family and his beloved apple trees from Iowa to Oregon in the mid-eighteen hundreds. They have larger than life adventures along the way. Picture Book.
Baloney (Henry P.). Jon Scieszka. Puffin, 2005.
A small green alien has a wild excuse for being late to school again. Delightful nonsense.
The Biggest Soap. Carole Lexa Schaefer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
This delightful story is from Micronesia. A young boy is sent to the store to get the biggest piece of laundry soap for his mother. He gets distracted several times on the way home with other needs for the soap. He tells an embellished story of why the soap is so small upon returning home. Picture Book.
The Bunyans. Audrey Wood. Scholastic, 2006.
Meet Paul Bunyan’s jumbo sized family. Their adventures and needs are the reasons for many American natural wonders.
Clever Beatrice. Margaret Willey. Atheneum, 2004.
Clever Beatrice outsmarts and catches the lutin (elf-like creature) who rides her pony too hard at night.
Davy Crockett Saves the World. Rosalyn Schanzer. HarperCollins, 2001.
Crockett saves the world from Halley’s comet and wins the heart of Sally Sugartree.
Dear Mrs. LaRue : Letters from Obedience School. Mark Teague. Scholastic, 2002.
From obedience school, Ike the dog, sends letters to Mrs. LaRue begging her to let him come home. He exaggerates his circumstances to no avail. Picture Book.
Granite Baby. Lynne Bertrand. Farrar, straus and Giroux, 2005.
Five talented giant sisters open a granite quarry in New Hampshire. One of them carves a miniature town with a tiny granite baby. They try unsuccessfully to stop the infant’s crying. It takes a human girl who has had experience with many siblings, to teach the giants how to care for the baby. Picture Book.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Mark Teague. Dragonfly Books, 1997.
Wallace claims he was kidnapped by cowboys en route to his aunt’s for summer vacation. Picture Book.
New York’s Bravest. Mary Pope Osborne. Knopf, 2002.
Mose Humphreys was a larger than life New York firefighter from the 1840’s. It is only fitting that his heroic deeds earned him the title of America’s “first urban folk hero.”
Olivia Saves the Circus. Ian Falconer.
Olivia entertains her class with an account of her summer vacation in which she became tattooed lady, lion tamer, clown, tightrope walker, etc. when all the circus performers were sick. Picture Book.
Pancakes for Supper. Anne Isaacs. Scholastic, 2006.
This very amusing American tall tale takes place in the backwoods of New England, in which Toby falls off the back of her parents’ wagon and meets up with a series of wild animals. She trades items of clothing for her safety. The illustrations enhance and capture the spirit of this irresistible picture book.
Peggony-Po : A Whale of a Tale. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Hyperion, 2006.
Peggony-Po is a wooden boy who comes to life as his father, Galleon, carves him from driftwood. He promises to catch Cetus, the whale who bit off his daddy’s leg. This is a rollicking whale of a tale–think Moby Dick and Pinocchio. Picture Book.
Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett : A Tall Tale. Steven Kellogg. Mulberry, 1999.
A rollicking retelling of how Davy Crockett’s wife, Sally Ann Thunder, protects her child from Mike Fink. Picture Book.