I love folktales where a heroine or hero goes on a quest and meets just the right helpers along the way. These popular tales send a clear message—go after your dreams, don't worry that you are too young, too old, too small, or too weak. You will find friends who will help you. You will be stronger together!
Tasty Baby Belly Buttons is about a girl who was born magically from a watermelon, much to the delight of a childless couple. It is a variant of the well-known Japanese tale of Momotaro, blended with another classic, The Melon Princess. I found this unusual version in a volume of academic folklore and spun it out into a picture book.
How to bring down an ogre? The melon princess, Urikohime, takes her dog, and a pheasant, and a monkey on a mission to defeat some baby-stealing ogres. She and her companions are so small that their attacks on the ogres cause the bullies to bash, bop, and stomp themselves into submission.
The recording below is by my friend, Jeffrey Allen. Text is copyright 1999 Judy Sierra.
The smooth, rubbery surface of the basketball court near our house attracts many young chalk artists, and there are usually a few creative hopscotch patterns scattered around. When I see a kid in the process of drawing, I ask if she actually plays hopscotch. "No," is the common answer. "I just like making them." Sometimes I see children jumping along through the squares, but never using a stone or bottle cap marker.
I recall playing hopscotch as a kid. An important part was finding just the right marker—flat, not too heavy, not too light—and every player's had to look different.
Folklorists and anthropologists saved sketches and observations of traditional hopscotch games. It's fun to bring them back to life. Kids are excited to be playing games other kids invented long ago and far away. A group of two, three or four players is best.
This PDF file is free to download. It includes ten different hopscotch games. Feel free to share it informally—pass it along!
I am a children's book author and folklorist based in Portland, Oregon.
Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote 'The Cat in the Hat"
Random House, 2018. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.
*Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Kirkus.
Wild About Books, illustrated by Marc Brown. Winner of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award.
The Great Dictionary Caper, illustrated by Eric Comstock (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster)
On sale January 23, 2018. **Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist.