Chinese folktales

2014: The Year of the Horse

2014: The Year of the Horse

January 31, 2014, marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Horse. In Chinese astrology, people born in the Year of the Horse are believed to be hard-working, self-reliant, and cheerful. Years featuring the horse are supposed to be strong ones for travel, adventure, and opportunity.

To read more about adventures with horses, check out our book list, CRRL Kids: Horse Sense.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is a gentle, wondrous Chinese fantasy book for children. Set in a long-ago times, it follows a brave and bright girl named Minli who lives with her parents in a poor farming village. There is barely enough rice to keep them fed and certainly not any for luxuries. Most all the people are downtrodden and worried about their daily lives, but not Minli. She does not like the hard work in the sticky, muddy rice fields, but every evening she can look forward to stories told by her beloved father.

These tales fill her heart and her mind in such a way that she becomes the most radiant and hopeful young girl living near Fruitless Mountain. Indeed, she is so hopeful that when a peddler comes to their village with bowls of lucky goldfish, she takes her small savings to buy one, with high expectations. But when no luck seems to come and her father starts sharing his small supper with the hungry fish, Minli knows she must let it go. Releasing it into the Jade River, a river created according to legend from the body of a grieving dragon, she is surprised when a sweet, high-pitched voice—the goldfish!—offers to help her find her fortune by telling her the way to Never-Ending-Mountain where lives the Old Man of the Moon. The Old Man knows all things, including how her family’s fortune might be changed.

The Cricket's Cage: a Chinese folktale

By Stefan Czernecki (storyteller) and Cimon Ching (translator)

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Retells a Chinese folktale in which a clever and kindly cricket is responsible for designing the tower buildings for Beijing's "Forbidden City."
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The Magic Pillow

By Demi

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A poor young boy in China yearns for wealth and power, until a magician gives him a magic pillow that brings dreams of what would happen if his wishes came true.
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Tikki Tikki Tembo

By Arlene Mosel (storyteller) and Blair Lent (illustrator)

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When the eldest son fell in the well and most of the time getting help was spent pronouncing the name of the one in trouble, the Chinese, according to legend, decided to give all their children short names.
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"Loawnu Mends the Sky" by Vivienne Corringham from Tales for Telling from Around the World

By Mary Medlicott (selector) and Sue Williams (illustrator)

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When pieces of the sky fall down to the Earth, the worried children turn to local wise woman Loawnu to mend the sky. This story is one of the traditional tales from around the world in this collection of stories for telling or reading aloud.
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"Sweet and Sour Berries" by storyteller Linda Fang from More Ready-To-Tell Tales from Around the World

By David Holt and Bill Mooney (editors)

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Robbed by highwaymen and desperate for food, Tsai Shun's determination, honesty and generosity help to turn his family's luck around. Set in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.).
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The Beggar's Magic

By Magaret and Raymond Chang and David Johnson (illustrator)

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Retells an ancient Chinese tale of magic in which unselfishness is rewarded.
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The Donkey and the Rock

By Demi

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In this version of a tale with many Asian variations, a wise king, who rules a town full of foolish people in the mountains of Tibet, puts a donkey and a rock on trial to settle the dispute between two honest men.
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Just Rewards, or, Who Is That Man in the Moon & What's He Doing Up There Anyway?

By Steve Sanfield and Emily Lisker (illustrator)

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An original interpretation of a Chinese folktale which explains the presence of the man in the moon.
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