European Folktales

Below is a mixture of folktales from Eurpean countries. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping off point for further research. You will find other web sites referenced in the text next to the picture. You may find these helpful in your search for information about the authors, illustrators, or for information about Eurpean countries in general.
Texts were chosen because they offered new stories, or new versions of familiar stories, because they are commonly included in children's basal readers, and/or because the illustrations were extraordinary.

Disclaimer ---

This site was created by Diane Brown and Michelle Madden to fulfill requirements for an Oklahoma State University graduate class. This site is not considered to be child-safe because some of the sites referenced within this site link to the world wide web.

This page last updated April 24, 2003

Fin M'Coul - The Giant of Knockmany Hill

Retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

Fin M'Coul is a giant folk tale hero of Ireland whose exploits are similar to Paul Bunyan. Fin is best known for building the Giant's Causeway, a highway between Ireland and Scotland. In this story Fin and his wife work together to outwit a bully.
Visit Tomie DePaola to visit the author's website

Copyright 1981 by Tomie de Paola
Published by Holiday House

ISBN # 0-8234-0385-8

The Legend of Old Befana - An Italian Christmas Story

Retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

Old Befana is a grumpy old lady. When the three kings stop on their way to get directions to Bethlehem, Befana is less than cordial. But the interaction preys on her, and she decides to follow them. She takes treats and her broom, to clean up for the child's mother. She flies through the night, but she never catches up. However, she still comes very Christmas eve, leaves gifts and cleans up with her broom, for one never knows which child will be the special one.
Visit Tomie DePaola to visit the author's website

If you want to learn more about other Christmas customs in Italy, try this site

Copyright 1980 by Tomie de Paola
Published by Voyager Books

ISBN # 0-15-243817-3

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato - An Irish Folktale

Retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola

Jamie O'Rourke was the laziest man in all of Ireland. So opens the story of a man who doesn't want to work, even to dig potatoes. When he catches one of the wee folk, his life changes dramatically. This is a cute story for any time of the year.
Visit Tomie DePaola to visit the author's website

If you are interested in doing a potato project in your classroom similar to a Flat Stanley project, you might want to check out the Spud web site. Spud is a potato who has seen the world. Don't let students navigate this without adult supervision. Spud gets into some pretty big trouble in Las Vegas.

If you need information on the Flat Stanley project, Go here

Copyright 1992 by Tomie de Paola
Published by Putnam Penguin

ISBN # 0-698-11603-8

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

As told by Marianna Mayer
Illustrated by Kinuko Y.Craft

Because of a curse, the King is worried about his 12 daughters. Oh, it's bad enough that they wear out a pair of dancing slippers every night. But the King knows that if he cannot stop them soon, he will lose them all to a twilight kingdom. Fortunately, Peter comes along and wins the heart of the youngest daughter. Her act of love frees the princesses forever from the spell.
The illustrations in this book are lavish, and in the true spirit of the Middle Ages / Renaissance. The text is set similar to an illuminated manuscript.

Copyright 1989 by Marianna Mayer and Kinuko Y. Craft
Published by Mulberry Books, and Imprint of William Morrow & Co.

ISBN # 0-688-14392-X


Retold and Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Paul Zelinsky retells this classic German tale with realistic language that is easy to understand. The story does include an ending involving Rapunzel giving birth to twins. This may raise some questions in the minds of alert listeners. The illustrations are clear, and speak to the Medieval times gone by. This is a Caldecott Medal winner.

Jane Yolen has written many fairy tales that fit into this tradition.
Here is a link to her web site: Jane Yolen

Copyright 1997 by Paul O. Zelinksy
Published by Dutton Children's Books

ISBN # 0-525-45607-4

The Three Little Pigs

Retold and Illustrated by Barry Moser

Barry Moser stays true to the classic tale, only straying a few times in the text. The illustrations, however, a filled with funny moments for adults or alert children. One interesting point, where the third pig harvests the apples before the wolf arrives, harkens directly back to Lon Po Po (see the Asian section of this web site).

Copyright 2001 by Barry Moser
Published by Scholastic

ISBN # 0-439-33471-3


Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Dennis Nolan

In this story Daedalus murders his nephew with no concern of a consequene He then escapes to Crete. In Crete, Daedalus and his son escape from prison by flying away with feather's they have saved from visiting birds while in prison.
The illustrations in this book are very realistic. Look for the ancient gods' images in the clouds.

Here is a link to Jane Yolen's web site: Jane Yolen
Copyright 1991
Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

ISBN # 0-15-297850-X