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American Tall Tales Hardcover – September 24, 1991

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American folk heroes of the 19th century spring to life in these splendidly retold sagas. Osborne's reputation as a gifted raconteur ( Favorite Greek Myths ; Beauty and the Beast ) is reaffirmed in this compendium, which retells the legends of familiar figures (Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill), as well as lesser known personalities, such as Crockett's fictional wife Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, a composite character shaped by tales of various real-life women. Also chronicled are heroes hailing from places other than the backwoods, including Stormalong, a giant sailor who as a baby was washed onto a Cape Cod beach by a tidal wave, and Mose, a New York City fireman immortalized in an 1848 Broadway play. As tantalizing as Osborne's storytelling are McCurdy's ( The Owl-Scatterer ) elaborate, full-color wood engravings, which in their robust stylization dramatically render the grandeur of these engrossing yarns. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-- This strikingly handsome, oversized volume presents nine all-American figures whose overblown exploits take them from coast to coast and through all manner of occupations and preoccupations. Osborne has chosen familiar fictitious characters--Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Febold Feboldson--and actual people, such as Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crockett, and relates episodes that stress the individuals' human weaknesses as well as strengths. She has melded several legendary characters into a single heroine, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, who more than holds her own in such grand company. The rip-roaring action, broad humor, and colorful language of the convention are all here, but the violence is kept to a minimum and the laughs aren't at anyone's expense, except perhaps the subjects, who feel rather foolish on occasion. McCurdy's intricate wood engravings tinted with watercolor equal their tall task. He sets these larger-than-life folk on majestic landscapes brimming with energy, rich with wildlife and local color. The author's thoughtful introduction and notes round out this superlative offering. It's "the whole steamboat!" --Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0970 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (September 24, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679800891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679800897
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.6 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. Boller on July 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would give this book 4 stars for the ease and convenience of having most of the major American folk tales and heroes in one volume, but I would have to give it 3 stars for readability and interest. These stories are actually much more interesting than this book makes them.

I think that perhaps the author, in trying to combine as many different original sources as possible for each story, ended up forsaking style for thoroughness.

Tall tales, when done well, have much more poetic flow than Osborne's do. I thought I was perhaps being too picky, but the fact that my two kids (both story lovers and avid readers) were COMPLETELY uninterested in the stories in this book validates what I had concluded - this volume is pretty much uninspired.
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Format: Hardcover
I remember loving these stories when I was a kid. I decided to purchase a collection to re-read, and with my nephews coming for a visit, thought it would be perfect read-aloud material. I received the book a few days before their arrival, looked at the Introduction, and sent it back the next day. I was saddened, but not surprised to see political correctness creeping into even these classics. The author decided that there were items in these old stories that run contrary to our modern sensibilities, such as "conquering nature" and I suppose some issues involving minorities, so she decided to leave out certain things and emphasize the "compassionate side" (author's words) of these tall tale heroes. And of course she had to concoct a female tall tale character (sally windy whirlwind, or something like that) to complete the picture. Look, these stories were written and/or passed down from long ago. Yes, peoples' sensibilities were different. Yes, there are parts of these stories, and so many others, that are, how shall we say, not sensitive to the feelings of some individuals. But that's the way they were written, and that's the way they were told. Come to grips with it. I wonder how this author would react if someone censored her writings? I'll bet we can all guess.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a grandchild. I grew up with the stories and want to share them and the characters with him. Who hasn't heard of at least one of the characters in the book: Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett?

The writing style will be easily understood by children in early elementary. The really exceptional part of this book is the Foreward. It easily and clearly explains how the stories in the book have become part of our US cultural heritage without needing to be an educator to understand it.

I highly recommend it to anyone considering this type of book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Varying collection of tall tales. Used it for my 5th graders to access Common Core standards by boosting a curriculum-mandated tall tale to a compare/contrast assignments using these tales. The tall tales are a good length for the students to read and discuss on their own. I also recommend it for 4th grade teachers when they investigate the different American regions. Large (but not huge) text makes it good for copying to use w/ the students
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Format: Hardcover
This book has nine tales, but Osborne has written every story in the exact same manner. Am I reading a tale about Davy Crocket or Pecos Bill? Hard to tell, because the style of every tale is mind-numbingly identical. Hard to believe that someone could make tales about Johnny Appleseed and John Henry boring.

And the fake American Tall Tale called "Sally Ann" that Osborne invented (apparently to have a female tale for the feminists) is junk -- basically identical to Davy Crocket with only the name changed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son and I laugh and laugh over many of these quaint stories of American Tall Tales and legends. We purchased the book for BoyScouts tall tales study. The book is large and has delightful illustrations throughout. The fanciful yet simple language in the stories is delightful and easy to read and understand even for the youngest of children being read to by their parents. A bit of American Wilderness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
nice drawings, authentic language of frontier Tall Tales. I purchased this book to help my five year-old start to understand when kid-level 'exaggeration' bridged over into fibbing or Tall Tales. The rustic frontier language does not distract from the point of the stories, and they are fun to read with a slight twang...the illustrations are vibrant.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a treasure! The picture are gorgeous and the stories are fun and educationally. My boys (10, 7, 5) all ask me to read it frequently. I recommend getting the hardcover to preserve the beautiful large wood carved pictures.
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