Books by Margaret Read MacDonald

TOUGH TUG by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: March 1, 2018

"A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate. (Picture book. 3-6)"
A tugboat's size and might are easy to anthropomorphize; add this personified puffer to the mix. Read full book review >
BYE BYE BIG! by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: Nov. 1, 2017

"The element of surprise and lots of opportunities for listeners to chime in will make this a great one for read-alouds. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Little ones explore the food chain and make size comparisons in this tongue-in-cheek book. Read full book review >
THE WISHING FOXES by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: April 15, 2017

"Welcome wherever folk tales are popular. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)"
MacDonald and the Whitmans offer an Appalachian version of "The Kind and the Unkind Girls." Read full book review >
PARTY CROC! by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: March 1, 2015

"The importance of keeping promises is delivered with a hearty dose of humor, making this a book to return to. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)"
A jolly Zimbabwean folk tale teaches the importance of keeping promises. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"MacDonald's lively retelling of this folktale is bound to fascinate kids; after all, who can resist a tale with a snot-nosed boy? (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-8) "
This Japanese variant of "The Fisherman and His Wife" features a poor flower seller and a snot-nosed boy. Read full book review >
TOO MANY FAIRIES by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: March 1, 2010

The magic in this Celtic cognate to "It Could Always Be Worse," summoned by an old woman's complaints about her housework, comes in the shape of crazy-cleaning fairies, who, as soon as they have washed the dishes, swept the floor, made the bed and done the knitting, undo all their work so they can start again. The village wise woman gives the old woman the right advice to both get rid of the fairies and stop her complaints. Using strong construction and repetition in all the right places, the simple text is so artfully composed that it is ready-made for retelling, from the old woman's cantankerous "Work! Work! Work! How I hate it! Hate it! Hate it!" to the onomatopoeic clankety, swishety, flumpety and clickety noises made by the fairies gone berserk. Mitchell's watercolors reflect the text too sweetly, without enough visual clues to make the cute gossamer-winged, roly-poly mischief-makers convincing nuisances, and even the crotchety old woman doesn't look very crotchety. Taken alone, master storyteller MacDonald's work shines. (Picture book/folklore. 4-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

This third collaboration between author and illustrator (Conejito, 2006, and Go to Sleep, Gecko!, 2007) derives from Micronesia, specifically the Marshall Islands. Little Sandpiper and great Whale have a surf war over territory. Each claims there is more of their kind; Whale calls forth his whale brothers and Sandpiper calls her sisters. More birds or more whales? Impossible to tell, so they next call for their cousins. Whale has an idea: If the whales eat up all the land, there will be no place for the birds to perch. Sandpiper has an idea: If the birds drink up all the sea, there will be no water for the whales. But, drying up the sea will also dry up the birds' food source, so they spit back the water and the whales spit back the island; the bragging contest ends in sharing "surf and turf." The telling is rich with a storyteller's voice and sound effects, while Valério's bright blues and yellows span the spreads with broad, brush strokes that mirror the setting of this symbiotic, ecology folktale. (source notes) (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

In this retelling of a traditional Middle Eastern folktale, silly Jouha can not understand why every time he sits on his donkey and counts the donkeys behind that are carting his figs to market, he loses one, making him a most unlucky man! But no worries—each time he is instructed to dismount, he is able to count all of the donkeys he sees, and all ten are there, making him quite a lucky fellow. Liddiment's warm, sunlit illustrations show the lovable fool making his way through the desert landscape and finding help from passersby, all the while accompanied by the numbers one to ten in Arabic and English transliteration, which periodically appear at the bottom of the pages. Young readers will giggle along as they familiarize themselves with cardinal numbers in both languages and spot Jouha's grievous but comic errors. An initial note explains that, as in Arabic, the numbers appear from right to left, and provides source notes and pronunciations. Engaging and filled with gentle humor—a solid choice for home or school use. (Picture book/folktale. 3-6)Read full book review >
BAT’S BIG GAME by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: April 1, 2008

When the Animals and the Birds square off for a soccer match, Bat decides that he wants to be on the winning side. But which one is that? The Animals look bigger and stronger, so Bat, showing off his teeth and fur, throws in his lot with them at first—but then switches when the Birds take over the lead. When the score changes again he tries to switch back, and gets thrown off both teams because "a good player sticks with the team . . . even when they are losing." Off goes Bat to practice by himself, and to reflect on his values. Stylized but easily identifiable, the rubber-limbed animals in Nobati's digitally generated illustrations sport team jerseys and dash energetically about a rustic pitch, showing a visual energy that reflects the author's characteristically quick-cadenced telling. Joseph Bruchac's Native American rendition, The Great Ball Game (1994), illustrated by Susan L. Roth, is the best known version of this tale, but MacDonald's reworking is substantially different and based on antecedents from several continents and traditions. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

In this retelling of an English folktale with a Beauty and the Beast motif, a dog, having earned a reward for saving a man's life, claims the man's daughter as his prize. Because the girl misses her father, the dog sets out to take her to visit him on two occasions, but each time he turns around when she is unkind to him. On the third try, the daughter sees the sorrow in the dog's eyes and begins to feel love for him, at which point the dog transforms into a handsome prince and the two get married. MacDonald's prose is precise and engaging, but it is Paschkis's gouache illustrations, in vivid color and sharp detail, that turn this into something magical. The illustrations are set in interestingly shaped panels bordered with golden rope, and the remaining white space is dotted with details featuring various types of flowers. The endpapers depict each of the flowers along with their meanings, encouraging readers to return to the illustrations and the story in search of symbolic connections. (Picture book. 4-10)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2007

In this retelling of a Hungarian folktale, an enterprising rooster discovers a diamond button while searching for food. On the way home to give it to his mistress, he sees the King, who notices the glittering button and claims it for his own. "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo! Give me back my diamond button!" Little Rooster crows. The King refuses to return the button and decides to have the bird thrown into a well. Little Rooster has a secret weapon, though: a magic stomach that drinks up all the water, allowing him to escape. The King's anger multiplies as each punishment he metes out is quashed by Little Rooster's magical stomach and infinite appetite for fair play. Eventually, Little Rooster is able to take his leave—with the king's treasure, which goes to Little Rooster's mistress and is shared with the entire village. Energetic acrylic illustrations round out this satisfying, fun-filled tale about a very fowl Robin Hood. Includes a note concerning other versions and similar folktales around the world. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

When the old woman who lives in a little house on the hill finds a copper penny, she goes to town to buy a fat pig. "Goin' to town, gonna buy a little pig. Jig jog jig jog Jiggety-jig!" MacDonald's retelling of the classic story stirs in mountain flavor to the folksy fun of the cumulative tale. Kanzler's textured paintings play up the expressions and sauciness of the old woman, her little boy and the animals (cat, rat, dog, pig) as the page composition cunningly stages each refusal to cross the bridge and bold type emphasizes sounds and phrases. Few versions of the story have matched the mettle of Paul Galdone's since 1960; Rosanne Litzinger's (1993) borders on sweetness and Eric Kimmel's (1992), in which ten things buck the bridge, lacks charm. In contrast, this rendition is in fine fettle with its down-home cadence, rustic setting and spunky characterizations that resemble Marcia Sewell's style. (author's note, music for two songs) (Picture book/folktale. 3-6)Read full book review >
GO TO SLEEP, GECKO! by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

A Balinese folktale begins one starry night when the gecko complains to the elephant, who is the village boss, that he can't sleep because of the blinking of the fireflies. The next morning, the fireflies explain to the elephant that they blink all night because the buffaloes drop poop all over the road and travelers need to avoid it. The buffalo, showing equal thoughtfulness, explains that the rain washes his poop into the road's potholes to protect these same travelers. This does not appease the gecko, who demands that the elephant talk to the rain. The rain admits to pouring all night long, but this is to provide the mosquitoes with the water they need to survive. And without mosquitoes, what would geckos eat? Elephant's conclusion: "The world is all connected." Content with this explanation, the gecko is finally able to close his eyes and get a good night's sleep. Valério's bright acrylics, full of goofy grins and exaggerated noses, highlight the humor of this bouncy ecological fable. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
TEENY WEENY BOP by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: April 1, 2006

In this aptly illustrated version of a tale that folklorist/storyteller extraordinaire MacDonald has told for years, and even recorded, the title character is cast as a small woman with half-glasses, a tendency toward wide, exuberant gestures and—except for huge woolly red hair, a certain resemblance to the author. Having come upon a gold coin, Teeny Weeny Bop dances off, "To market, to market! To buy a fat PIG!" for a pet. When the pig ruins her garden, she trades it for a cat, which proceeds to wreck her living room, and so on down, until even a slug proves troublesome, and she ends up with neither coin nor companion. But then she finds a silver coin. . . . Crafted from folkloric elements and presented in a mix of bumptious prose and verse, this original story lends itself equally well to reading or telling; either way, young audiences will clamor for more despite the closing, "No more, no more Teeny Weeny Bop! / Your silly story has got to . . . STOP!" (source note) (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
CONEJITO by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: April 1, 2006

MacDonald weaves context-translated Spanish and a simple campfire song into this easy-to-learn tale of a young rabbit who outwits three predators with some help from his canny Auntie. Bounding up the mountain to grow, "¡Gordito! ¡Gordito! ¡Gordito!" on Tia Mónica's cakes and cookies, Little Bunny encounters Señors Zorro, Tigre and León. Putting them off with a promise that he'll be much fatter coming back down, Conejito eats and dances with Tia Mónica until he's "healthy and strong and fat as a butterball!"—whereupon Tia Mónica pops him into a barrel and sends him rolling safely home. Valério uses warm colors in the full bleed illustrations, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the ears and tails of his rubbery figures to create a sense of exuberant motion. A lively, and less violent, variation on Betsy Bang's Bengali version, The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin (1975), illustrated by Molly Garrett Bang. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)Read full book review >
TUNJUR! TUNJUR! TUNJUR! by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: March 1, 2006

After a childless woman prays for a child, a cooking pot (tunjara in Arabic, leading to the sound of a rolling pot, "Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!") appears and the woman is grateful. The pot begs to go to the market and the mother reluctantly lets her go, after making her promise to behave—but the little pot is young and greedy. The pot steals honey from a rich couple and then jewels from the king and queen. Finally the little pot is punished: She is filled with goat manure! The heavy-lidded men and women in the bright acrylic paintings have a comic-book feel, but the patterned clothes, textiles, architectures and borders are more authentic. Relatively few Palestinian tales have been made available in picture-book form in this country. MacDonald is a well-known storyteller, and the original story was collected during a live telling. The tale has an oral quality that makes it easy to read or tell with repetitive phrases and lively rhythms. (author's note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE SQUEAKY DOOR by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: Jan. 1, 2006

An inventive grandma, a noisy door and a bevy of barnyard animals provide the perfect ingredients for a rib-tickling tale in this adaptation of a Puerto Rican folksong from MacDonald. When Grandma tucks Little Boy in for the night, he assures her that he won't be afraid. However, when the bedroom door squeaks closed, he gives a mighty shout of fright. Grandma's attempts to soothe him results in pure mayhem—and fun for readers young and old. One by one, Grandma enlists the assistance of her four-footed friends, tucking them into bed with Little Boy for comfort. Just as she shuts the door on the increasingly crowded bedroom, a cacophony of human and animal shouts coincides with the squeak of the door. MacDonald provides plenty of repetition and opportunities for reader interaction, such as joining in with the kissing sounds and assorted critter noises. DePalma's full-color illustrations highlight the hilarity, depicting the intrepid Grandma dutifully cleaning up and then dressing each animal in pajamas for bedtime. A true gem, this rollicking tale will become a storytime favorite. A historical note on the origins of the tale is included in the end page. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
A HEN, A CHICK AND A STRING GUITAR by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: May 1, 2005

Warning: This Chilean folktale-inspired read-aloud (and song) will have preschoolers oinking and mooing 'til the cows come home. What begins as a simple gift of a red hen from Grandpa to his poncho-wearing grandson explodes into a menagerie of 16 pets when the boy receives more animals—and nature takes its course. Opportunities for an at-home barnyard ruckus abound here, as each spread's text repeats the pattern of the first: "Grandpa gave me a clucking red hen. / ‘Cluck! Cluck! Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!' / Ay! Ay! Ay! What a fine hen! / ‘Cluck! Cluck! Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!' / One day that hen / Gave me a chick. / I had a hen, / And I had a chick. / Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay! / How I loved my two little pets!" The story becomes cumulative as the duck has a duckling, the dog has a puppy, etc. In the end, the boy plays his three-string guitar ("Plunk!") and all 16 pets dance in the moonlight. The colorful, folk-art style of the acrylic and pastel paintings echoes the simple, cheerful cacophony of the story. (audio CD) (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

A veteran tale-spinner offers about 80 retold traditional tales, with an occasional original slipped in, designed to fill the bill when times or attention spans are short. As in most of her umpteen other themed collections, MacDonald draws from a world-spanning array of cultures, Aesop to contemporary camp lore, recasts each selection with frequent line breaks to indicate pauses, and closes with very careful notes on sources, tale types, and variants. Here, she even indicates telling times, though rightly cautioning readers and tellers to take them with a grain of salt. Arranged in digestible sections—"Riddle Tales," "Tales to Tell on a Museum Tour," "Very Tiny Tales! Under 30 Seconds!"—this gathering of easy-to-learn stories supplies full measures of chuckles and grins, tears, chills, wisdom, and entertainment. (bibliography, suggestions for beginning storytellers) (Folktales. 7-10, adult)Read full book review >
FAT CAT by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

Bright-color folk illustrations add zest and bounce to this tale told in many countries. Mouse, who lives with cat, is always busy cooking or sewing. This day, she makes 35 pies and the cat swallows them up, declaring, "I may be FAT, but I'm still a HUNGRY CAT!" Out the door he goes, saying, "Oh, I'm meow, meow FAT! 'Cause I'm a HUNGRY, HUNGRY CAT!" He meets in succession a washerwoman with her washtub, a company of soldiers brandishing swords, and a King on an elephant. Each of them exclaims "My, CAT! You sure are FAT!" to which the cat replies, "I may be FAT but I'm still a HUNGRY CAT!" and SLIP SLOP SLUURP! Cat swallows them down. "BURP!" When he arrives home, he eats his friend, the mouse, who happens to be sewing. She snips her way to freedom and orders, "Everybody OUT!" Because they are friends, she spends the day sewing up Cat's tummy. "Oh, I'm meow meow FLAT! 'Cause I'm an EMPTY EMPTY CAT!" says the cat. The tale ends: "And now, whenever folks meet Cat they are careful to speak with respect." The story will be a favorite read aloud and simply demands that listeners shout along. Plenty of white space sets off the pictures and heightens the art. There are, indeed, 35 pies depicted on a double page spread and the green-vested golden cat becomes satisfyingly huge as he swallows each person with their accoutrements. As expected from this scholarly storyteller (The Storyteller's Sourcebook, etc.) there is a note identifying the motif of the tale and citing other variants. (Folktale. 4-7)Read full book review >
MABELA THE CLEVER by Margaret Read MacDonald
Released: May 1, 2001

"In the early times, some were clever and some were foolish. The Cat was one of the clever ones. The mice were mostly foolish." So begins MacDonald's latest folktale retelling, this one from the Limba people of Sierra Leone. When the Cat invites the mice to join the secret Cat Society, they are only too pleased and cheerfully line themselves up for the "initiation march" while the Cat scoops them up and puts them in her sack. Luckily for the mice, there is one clever one, Mabela, who remembers her father's sage advice and escapes from the Cat just in time, rescuing the other mice as the Cat languishes in a thorn bush. The energetic text is trademark MacDonald (Pickin' Peas, 1998, etc.), written purely to be read aloud, and punctuated by a chant that invites children to join in. Coffey's (Red Berry Wool, 1999) saturated acrylics depict a vaguely African anthropomorphized world where animals live in grass huts. Bright borders set off the text blocks, and occasionally frame a detail, such as a tiny tongue sneaking out to lick a delicate chop when the cat greets the eager mice: " ‘Oh, my, you have ALL arrived!' said the Cat. ‘How delicious . . . I mean, how delightful.' " The Cat is orange, and her pointy green eyes protrude from the plane of her face, giving her a truly shifty-eyed (and somewhat disconcerting) look. Mabela herself is a little red mouse, whose enormous eyes dominate her bucktoothed face. The tale is somewhat moralizing at the end—"Limba grandparents say, ‘If a person is clever, it is because someone has taught them their cleverness' "—but children will respond nevertheless to this plucky little heroine who saves herself by her wits. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 20, 1999

paper 0-208-02426-3 Earth Care (xx pp.; $26.50; paper $17.50; Nov. 20; 0-208-02416-6; 0-20802426-3): Talkative animals and plants scheme to protect themselves, punish evildoers, and reward the compassionate in these charming folktales from around the world. MacDonald follows Peace Tales (1992) with this collection focusing on environmental issues. Readers and storytellers of all ages will find much to enjoy and ponder here. Several tales are written in simple, repetitive styles that can be read by young children. A brief proverb ends every tale, all of which illuminate the wisdom of some of the old ways and demonstrate that concern for the environment is not a new issue in history. These humorous, profound, deceptively simple tales are a welcome addition to world literature collections. (Folklore. 7-9) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

This fluent British version of ``The Fisherman and His Wife'' features only two characters: a discontented old woman living in an uncommonly large vinegar bottle, and an obliging fairy who provides her with increasingly palatial housingbut sends her back where she came from when she demands to be Empress of the Universe. MacDonald (The Storyteller's Sourcebook, 1982, etc.) is in fine form, preceding the tale with a learned discussion of variants and other editions, and then rendering it in a rapid, comic style``But when the fairy came near/there sat the old woman . . . complaining./`Oh what a pity!/What a pity pity pity!' '' Fowlkes's illustrations, in reds, yellows, and purples, spill energetically from their wide frames, centering on the old woman's determinedand in the end, chagrinedcountenance, every bit of space crammed with pattern and color. Excellent for reading aloud or alone. (Picture book/folklore. 7-10) Read full book review >