We are wearing out the pages of Silly & Sillier, Judy Sierra's collection of folktales from around the world. A friend of Junior's gave it to him for his fourth birthday, and we've been reading it ever since. It's also popular in my son's second-grade class. The teacher has read them all twenty stories over the last year.
The picture book is billed as a "read-aloud" and for good reason: the tales are full of humor and drama, and include funny sound effects. A storyteller could have a field day. I could see adapting a story into a puppet show, too. Kids would love acting it out. "Toontoony Bird," from Pakistan, offers at least ten roles; it begins,
In the eggplant garden, Toontoony the Tailor Bird danced and sang, toon-toon-a-toon-toon, da-eee! Toontoony wasn't watching where he was dancing. He stepped on a thorn, and the thorn stuck in his foot—oof! That hurt!
In the introduction to Silly & Sillier, Judy Sierra writes about repetition and how hilarious that can be to kids. The repetitions also add a rhythm to the stories, which children remember. Sierra points out, "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."
The watercolor and pen & ink illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev remind me a bit of Ed Koren's shaggy creatures, though more controlled in their loopiness. Animals star in many of the tales, and Gorbachev renders each one with individuality: among others, a singing lizard, a pancake-eating fox, and an enormous chick named Kuratko the Terrible.
A capable seven-year-old reader could read these to himself, but the extensive text on some of the pages would make it difficult for younger children without as well-developed skills to do so. Each story is four or five pages long. Silly & Sillier has long held a Chicken Spaghetti Seal of Approval.