Folktails: Animal Legends from Around the World.


32 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps
ISBN 978-1-897066-75-9
DDC j398.24'52





Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings is a public-school teacher and librarian in Ajax,


Originally published in 1993 as Crow and Fox and Other Animal Legends, this collection of pourquoi tales is equally as entertaining, enjoyable, and useful now as it was then.


Arranged as a chain, each story features a pair of animals, e.g. “Elephant and Hare” from India, or “Bear and Coyote” from western Canada. At the end of each tale one of the animals takes us to a different continent and a different pair of characters, e.g. “Hare and Tortoise” from West Africa, and “Coyote and Mouse” from the American southwest. Food is a recurring theme in almost all of the tales. Thus it seems appropriate that the final link in the chain is the story of “Mouse and Tapir.” This tale relates why and how, to this very day, the Food Tree provides fruits and vegetables for the people and animals of the world.


Large, colourful illustrations reflecting the various locales of the stories face each page of text, e.g. the southwestern desert with its red rock formations is portrayed in “Coyote and Mouse.” Similarly, the enclosing borders of the illustrations are based on native designs or artwork, such as Anasazi pottery and Egyptian carpets, reinforcing the transition from one continent to another. A cameo from the larger illustration begins each tale, adding to the visual appeal of the book.


As noted previously, in the stories each animal appears twice. In the illustrations, however, each animal makes a third appearance. The first two are obvious. Young audiences will have fun trying to spot the animal a third time, hidden in the pictures.


A valuable addition to folklore collections, Folktails will appeal to young and old alike. Students may even be inspired to write their own chain of stories after enjoying these enchanting tales from around the globe collected and retold by Jan Thornhill. Highly recommended.


Thornhill, Jan., “Folktails: Animal Legends from Around the World.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,