The Vermont Folklife Center Children's Book Series

The Vermont Folklife Center Children's Book Series of 32-page full color children's picture books is based on tales preserved in the Center's extensive sound archives and adapted by award-winning, contemporary authors into exciting narratives.

Beautiful artwork by distinguished illustrators provides important historical and dramatic settings for the tales, which span the 19th and 20th centuries. A Resources page at the end of each book describes hands-on activities for young readers and their families that will inspire them to unearth and explore their own family legends.

To learn more about the titles in the series, including pictures and audio recordings of the the original storytellers, click here.

To hear some great family stories and discover storytelling activities to try in your own family or school, click here.

"A venture that appears to be the first of its kind in the country . . . . By transforming local history into something that appeals to children, the Center is breathing new life into dusty old social history . . . . These stories are a valuable tool." Boston Globe

Alec's Primer

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Retold by Mildred Pitts Walter, paintings by Larry Johnson

As a young boy born into slavery in Virginia, Alec Turner was forbidden to learn to read. Naturally he was frightened when Zephie, his owner's granddaughter, first offered to teach him. She told him that if he learned to read, he could become a free man. As Alec mastered the alphabet from a small primer, Zephie lit in him a spark of hope, which would become a flame.

Alec's Primer is based on the true story of Alec Turner (1845-1923), who learned to read and eventually, just as Zephie predicted, became a free man.

“Alec’s Primer is a wonderful book that will give children everywhere a more personal perspective on this small piece of Black history.” -- Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

“The power of this escape story, which is based on true events, is in the realistic detail about a child under slavery and in the storytelling that passes on the history. . . . Walter’s spare, dramatic words and Johnson’s stirring double-page paintings present a glimpse of the history in a brutal world—the child’s intense fear, his bond with his mother and with his blonde friend, and, finally, his triumph.” -- Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Alec's Primer :: hardcover :: $15.95


Daisy and the Doll

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Retold by Michael Medearis and Angela Shelf Medearis, paintings by Larry Johnson

An African-American girl demonstrates pluck and resourcefulness in dealing with discrimination in a small Vermont town.

Daisy and The Doll :: paperback :: $7.95

"The honest text, coupled with affecting paintings . . . will give children a deeper sense of what real beauty means." -- Booklist

One of Yankee magazine's 100 Classic New England Children's Books and A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.


Ghost on the Hearth

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Retold by Susan Milord, paintings by Lydia Dabcovich

An adaptation of a thrilling tale of the supernatural passed down by a French Canadian family since the 1830s.

Ghost on the Hearth :: hardcover :: $15.95

"Milord's retelling keeps the action moving quickly and Dabcovich's folk-art illustrations build suspense and convey an eerie atmosphere. A good addition to storytelling collections." -- School Library Journal.

"Highly Recommended." -- Canadian Review of Materials (Manitoba Library Association)


John and Tom

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Retold by Willem Lange, paintings by Bert Dodson

The true tale of a young logger who is saved by his remarkable Morgan horse after an accident in the woods.

John and Tom :: hardcover :: $14.95

"This story . . . has a homespun, old-fashioned quality that will provide children with insights into a simpler, quieter lifestyle." -- School Library Journal

"A heartwarming story, with appeal to animal lovers." Booklist

"Highly recommended!" -- Library Talk starred review


Malian's Song

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Retold by Marge Bruchac, paintings by William Maughan

In the words of a young Abenaki girl, Malian's Song tells the true story of the deliberate English attack by British Major Robert Rogers on the St. Francis Abenaki community near Montréal in 1759.

Jeanne Brink, a contemporary descendant of Malian living in Vermont, told the little-known Abenaki version of the brutal attack--which stands in direct contrast to Rogers' surviving journal records--to the Vermont Folklife Center. The only picture book to present this key piece of North American history from the Native American perspective, Malian's Song underscores the Abenaki people's strength and fortitude in the face of unspeakable loss.

“Abenaki author Marge Bruchac ably manages the "translation" of spoken words to text. Her Malian is, in turn, an engaging child, sympathetic victim, and proud survivor. Illustrator William Maughan's 20 detailed paintings welcome readers right into Malian's family and community.” -- Quill and Quire (Canada's Magazine) of Books and Reviews)

“With able assistance from Maughan's carefully detailed, nonviolent scenes, [Bruchac's view of Rogers' Raid] receives a strong, evocative rendition for young readers.” -- Kirkus Reviews

“Malian's Song is a true story, truthfully told and beautiful illustrated. Everything about it is real. These are real people. The events of that night, names of the people, way of life and dress-all are faithfully portrayed, in words and pictures. Marge Bruchac has very clearly shown why it is that those who actually know our stories should be the ones to tell them. This is one of the best books for the age group that I have seen: for Native children, that they shoul know their history, for others, that they can learn some of it.” -- Doris Seale, co-editor of A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children

Malian's Song :: hardcover :: $16.95


The Scrimshaw Ring

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Retold by William Jaspersohn, paintings by Vernon Thornblad

A powerful, true story set in early 1700s Rhode Island about a young boy's encounter with a band of mutineers who, much to the boy's surprise, leave him a remarkable memento.

The Scrimshaw Ring :: hardcover :: $15.95

"Reads like a tale passed down from grandparent to grandchild over generations. . . . suspenseful and dramatic." -- ForeWord: The Magazine of Independent Publishing

"A good pirate story is hard to find, but this picture book, set in colonial America, has a rousing plot and an authentic feel." -- Library Media Connection


The Two Brothers

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Retold by William Jaspersohn, paintings by Michael A. Donato

An immigrant story of the separation and extraordinary reunion of two German brothers who came to America at the turn of the century.

The Two Brothers :: hardcover :: $14.95

"A worthy addition to immigrant literature." -- School Library Journal

A Yankee magazine Top 40 Classic New England Children's book and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.

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