April Fools, Tricksters and Simpletons!

Everyone has played the trickster...or the fool...some time! That's what makes these stories so universal,
and so much fun to share out loud. Get ready to laugh!

Favorite Fools
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The Barefoot Book of Trickster Tales retold by Richard Walker
The Devil and Mother Crump by Valerie Scho Carey
Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
(My favorites: "Fool's Paradise" and The First Shlemiel")
Naftali the Storyteller and his Horse, Sus by Isaac Bashevis Singer
(My favorite: "The Fools of Chelm and the Stupid Carp")
The Three Sillies by Susan Hewitt or by Steven Kellogg
The Boy Who Cried Wolf retold by Tony Ross
The Golden Goose retold by Uri Shulevitz

Greedy Fools
A Penny A Look by Harve and Margot Zemach
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
Onions and Garlic: An Old Tale by Eric Kimmel
The Magic Goldfish by Demi (for a good fish craft to go with this book,
click here.)

Outwitting Witches
Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
Baba Yaga by Blair Lent

Outfoxing Foxes
What's in Fox's Sack by Paul Galdone
Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack
Dr. DeSoto by William Steig

Bigger, Stronger, Dumber!
Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger
Diane Goode's Book of Giants and Little People edited by Diane Goode
(My favorite: "How Bigmouth Wrestled the Giant")
Giants! Stories From Around the World edited by Paul Robert Walker
(an all-around excellent collection!)

Simple Misunderstandings
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Stupids Die by Harry Allard
Minerva Louise Goes to School by Janet Morgan Stoeke
The Know-Nothings by Michele Sobel

Friends Tricking Friends
A Bargain for Frances by Lillian Hoban
Cat's Purr by Ashley Bryan
Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock by Robert Krauss
Elmer by David McKee
Mud Flat April Fool by James Stevenson
George and Martha Back in Town by James Marshall
(Try story number three, "The Trick!")

Anansi: Master Trickster!

Anansi is my favorite trickster, a folkloric spider taking both arachnid and human form as best serves his purposes. These stories have African roots and are appropriate for Black History Month, but are just as wonderful for weaving a storytelling web any time of year. Kids love writing their own Anansi tales!
Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric Kimmel
Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel
Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric Kimmel
Ananse's Feast: An Ashanti Tale by Tololwa M. Moleel
Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst
Tiger Soup: An Anansi Story from Jamaica by Frances Temple
Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird by James Berry
(a kinder, gentler Anansi!)
First Palm Trees by James Berry
A Story, A Story by Marcia Brown ( A favorite! So fun to read aloud!)
Anansi Does the Impossible by Verna Aardema (Anansi in human form)
Anansi Finds a Fool by Verna Aardema (Anansi in human form)
Anansi: An Ashanti Tale by Gerald McDermott
(One year for my birthday my kind husband made me shadow puppets
of all the characters from this book. It does lend itself well to puppetry and
dramatization. While not really a "trickster" tale, no study of Anansi
would be complete without this depiction of his brave and industrious sons.)

Also, if you would like Native American trickster tales, try the "Iktomi" series by Paul Goble! Almost every culture has a trickster...how many can your students discover?

Fooling the Landlord
A Spoon for Every Bite by Joe Hayes
The Cats of Mrs. Calamari by John Stadler
Don't Tell the Whole World! by Joanna Cole

Not-So-Foolish Fools
Many Moons by James Thurber
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship retold by Arthur Ransome
(Outstanding inexpensive video version available from Library Video Service,
item #OK9221, call 1-800-843-3620 to order.)

Surprise Endings. Fooled Ya!
Tree of Birds by Susan Meddaugh
Here Comes the Cat! by Vladmir Vagin
Elvira by Margaret Shannon

Gerald McDermott is Nobody's Fool!

Consider an author study of a terrific trickster tale teller (can you say that three times fast?) GERALD MCDERMOTT, who has written and illustrated these vibrant volumes, to name a few:
Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest
Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest

Teachers, let students create comparative venn diagrams for these three trickster tales!

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