including ADOPTION


from Fairy Tales, Folklore, Fables, Nursery Rhymes,
Myths, Legends, Bible and Classics

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including ADOPTION

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

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(To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.

Green Willow: And other Japanese fairy tales by Grace James with Warwick Goble (illus). (1912)
These tales and legends have been collected from many sources. Some of them have been selected from the Record of Ancient Matters, which contains the mythology of Japan. Many are told from memory, being relics of childish days, originally heard from the lips of a school fellow or nurse. Certain of them form favorite subjects for representation on the Japanese stage. Illustrated.

I Don't Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze. (2003 - Ages 4-8)
Family connections are vitally important to children as they begin to find their place in the world. For transracial and transcultural adoptees, domestic adoptees, and for children in foster care or kinship placements, celebrating the differences within their families as well as the similarities that connect them, is the foundation for belonging. As parents or caregivers, we can strengthen our children’s tie to family and embrace the differences that make them unique. Each child will have their own story and their own special place to belong.

This beautifully illustrated and uplifting book, for the 2-5 set, will help to create the intimate parent/caregiver and child bond that is so important. While others may notice the physical differences between us on the outside, inside we are the same.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis with Jane Dyer (illus). (2003 - Baby-Preschool)
Mother-love is profound, however a baby comes into a woman's life. For Rose Lewis, the journey to motherhood begins with a letter to Chinese officials, asking if she can adopt from the "big room with lots of other babies." The infants in that room in China are each missing a mother, but Lewis is missing something, too--a baby. She travels to China to meet her new little girl and falls head over heels in love. Taking her baby home to America, Lewis introduces her to all her family and friends, and they begin their life together.

A touching love story, I Love You Like Crazy Cakes will warm the cockles of any new parent's heart, especially those who have recently adopted a child. It's an ideal story for lap-time reading, and will inspire parents and kids to talk about their own first "meetings," whether at birth or in an adoption agency. Jane Dyer, illustrator of the bestselling Time for Bed by Mem Fox, Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, and many other marvelous picture books, uses a pastel palette of watercolors to capture the tender moments between the American mom and her rosy-cheeked Chinese baby. (Ages 3 to 6) --Emilie Coulter

Japanese Fairy Tales retold by Teresa Peirce Williston, illus. by Sanchi O Gawa, Rand McNally & Co., New York, 1904. (Reprint 2003 - Ages 4-8)
This is a collection of stories of the Orient that Williston collected for she believed English children needed a touch of the imagination and poetry embodied in these tales, which have been treasured for hundreds of years by the children of Japan. Every effort has been made to bring Japanese life as vividly as possible before the children by means of the illustrations. Mr. Ogawa, the illustrator, is a native of Japan who combines Japanese artistic instinct and classic tradition with a knowledge of American ideas and methods.

Man in the Panther's Skin, The: A Romantic Epic (Forgotten Books) by Shot'ha Rust'haveli, translated by Marjory Scott Wardrop. (1912) (Reprint 2007)
"Georgia is a central Asian region which is situated in the mountains between the Black and Caspian seas. This, the 'Man in the Panther Skin' (also known as 'the Knight in the Panther Skin') is a 12th century medieval epic poem. It is considered one of the masterpieces of Georgian literature, and has been called the Georgian national epic. The author, Prince Shota Rustaveli, was a noble in the court of Queen Tamar, and served as her treasurer. He was also a painter who created frescoes in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. We do not know specific birth and death dates for Rustaveli. The poem was first printed in 1712 in Tblisi. This translation is, thankfully, into clearly written prose, unlike some of the awful 19th century attempts to versify translated poetry. Wardrop's translation, which she modestly called an attempt, makes enjoyable reading.

The poem, strangely enough, is not set in Georgia, but in fictionalized versions of Arabia, Persia, India and fairy-tale lands set in the environs of the Indian Ocean. (However the characters are at one point described as speaking fluent Georgian!) There are two chief male protagonists, Avt'handil and Tariel. Tariel, the eponymous 'Knight in the Panther's Skin' is made heir to all India, but tragically falls in love with his adoptive sister, Nestan. Driven mad by this love, he ends up killing the man she is to marry and fleeing India. Nestan is also spirited away to parts unknown. The search for Nestan, described as radiant as the sun, so beautiful that everyone she meets falls in love with her, is the central thread of the story. Avt'handil, the suitor of the Queen of Arabia T'hinat'hin, sees Tariel wandering disconsolate one day and goes in quest of this mysterious knight. Eventually they meet up and after a long quest end up finding Nestan. Nestan and Tariel marry, and Avt'handil marries T'hinat'hin. I have appended a short synopis of the story to this etext, based on my reading notes.

The narrative and characterizations are remarkable for a work of this period. Rustaveli had great psychological insight, providing backstory and motivations for his cast. The women characters are well written and memorable (particularly the merchant P'hatman). Rustaveli's female characters are not just props as in some of the medieval romances. Emotional relationships between characters of the same sex (both male and female), like the Biblical David and Jonathan, are portrayed as tender and sensual, shedding light on how our conventional sex roles are modern cultural constructs.

For technical reasons, I had to omit most of the footnotes from the body of the text. However, I did type in some of these footnotes by hand where they clear up obscure passages. Since a facsimile of this particular translation is in print and the footnotes are mostly of interest to scholars, this should not present a problem." (Quote from

Tales of a Chinese Grandmother: 30 Traditional Tales from China by Frances Carpenter and Malthe Hasselriis. (2001 - Ages 9-12)
A wonderful collection of traditional folktales from China, Tales of A Chinese Grandmother presents thirty short stories that are perfect to read aloud at bedtime. The tales, told by the character Lao-lao, the wizened grandmother of the nineteenth-century Ling household, give insight into the life, history, and culture of everyday China. They include: How Pan Ku Made the World, The God that Lived in the Kitchen, The Grateful Fox Fairy, The Spinning Maid and the Cowherd, the King of the Monkeys, Heng O, the Moonlady, and many more. Carpenter's own observations and interest in Chinese folklore, coupled with her unmistakable talent for storytelling, make Tales of a Chinese Grandmother a distinctive contribution to children's literature and the Chinese culture. Drawn from a long and proud tradition, these tales are sure to delight adults as well as children of all ages.

Read Cowherd and Weaving Maid. The love story is sweet, and the separation at the end is not so much "a sad ending" as it is a testament to the power of their love.


Folktales from China

Journey of the Heart (contemporary Japanese love story)

Seeking Her Husband at the Great Wall
[Click Castle to enter - select Love - select Two Grains of Sand]
This story has a happy ending.

Lady White Snake, a tale from Chinese Opera as retold y Aaron Shepard

Savitri, a tale of Ancient India as retold by Aaron Shepard

Indonesian Tales of Treasures and Brides, told and edited by Kuniko Sugiura, illus Koji Honda.

Crackle Mountain, adapted Asian Folktales as retold by Florence Forrest.
The Fire Quest



1) The first story that comes to my mind has versions in China, Japan, and Vietnam -- about the weaving princess and her mortal shepherd lover. Because they neglect their duties they are sent to opposite sides of the Milky Way (Silver River) but are allowed to reunite once each year. Blackbirds (or crows, depending on the version) disappear from the countryside and fly up to create a bridge across the Milky Way so that they can join. Sad, but definitely a love story.

2) Cultural background and summary references to the star lover story:

3) There is an Asian story about a girl who receives a gift from her mother before the mother dies. The setting is a remote community - father had brought gift from a big city far away. I think that the girl puts the gift away and doesn't take it out again until her father remarries. Then the girl thinks that it is special picture of her mother that can move and talk - it is a mirror, of course. The stepmother accuses the daughter of being vain when she finds her with the mirror, but once it is all explained, the stepmother begins to understand the girl, admires her devotion, and they become close.

4) There's a Japanese story of a love-match (must unusual in the days of arranged marriages) between a poor farmer and a gorgeous woman, who is kidnapped by a prince. She pines until she hears her husband's voice outside the palace, selling ripe peaches (New Years decorations in another version). Jealous of her smiles, the prince changes clothes with the peach-seller but she's not pleased with his performance, tells him he needs to go out in the village and practice the sales-chant. Then she and husband (in prince's regalia) order the guards not to ever let the vendor back in, and they rule kindly in his place.

5) Another Japanese story: elderly couple, husband accidentally discovers a spring of rejuvenating water and comes home looking like a bridegroom (some funny scenes as he proves who he is). Tired, wants his supper; but wife, anticipating sharing futon with young man, doesn't want to wait until tomorrow to visit that spring. When she doesn't return, he lights a lantern and finds her: an infant lying in the old woman's robes. In her eagerness, she drank too deeply from the spring. Fujita-san adds that he took the baby home and tenderly raised her until she was old enough to marry again. And whenever we see a May/December couple, she nods knowingly and says, "Rejuvenating Water."

6) From Japanese Fairy Tales retold by Teresa Peirce Williston, illus. by Sanchi O Gawa, Rand McNally & Co., New York, 1904. (Reprint 2003 - Ages 4-8)
This tale from Japan is called The Eight-Headed Serpent: The great god Susano walked through the land and lay down to sleep by the river Hi. He dreamed of a beautiful maiden floating down the river. A great monster rose from the water and was about to devour her, but the god Susano swam out and saved her. When he awoke and continued walking, the land seemed deserted but a chopstick floated by and he knew people were to be found somewhere. He finally found an old woman, her husband and their beautiful daughter. The girl seemed to be the same as in his dream. He learned that a monster ruled the land, a monster eight miles long with eight heads and eight tails. For seven years the monster had carried off one of the old couple's daughters, until only one remained. Susano thought for two days and two nights and finally had a plan to destroy the monster. The old woman prepared a rich soup in eight huge kettles. Susano and the old man made a great wall, having eight gates in it. In front of each gate they set a kettle of the soup. Then Susano bruised some leaves and put them in the soup. A delicious odor arose from each kettle of soup and floated over the mountains. Very soon they heard a great roar. They hid as the serpent approached amid huge roars and thunderous sounds. He stuck his eight heads through the gates and they all began to slurp the soup. Susano walked on the top of the wall and one by one cut off five heads of the serpent. The serpent was in increasing pain but still wanted more of the enchanting soup. But when the seventh head came off, the serpent turned on Susano with his mouth stretched wide to swallow him. Susano leaped upon the monster's neck and from above cut off the last head. The serpent was dead. Susano took the maiden up to the land of the Smiling Heaven. There they lived, always looking down upon the earth to see who was in trouble aso they could help them.

7) From
Green Willow: And other Japanese fairy tales by Grace James, illus. by Warwick Goble, Macmillan & Co., London, 1910
Synopsis of The Star Lovers
The Weaving Maiden was the daughter of a Deity of Light. Her dwelling was upon the shore of the Milky Way, which is the Bright River of Heaven. She wove all day long every day and never stopped for she had heard a saying that sorrow would come upon her if she stopped. She wove beautiful garments for everyone else but neglected herself terribly and had no pleasure in her life. Her father finally dressed her in rich attire and ordered her out of the house to seek some pleasure in her life. For a husband, he gave her the Herd Boy of Heaven, who tended his flocks upon the banks of the Bright River. The girl was in so in love and laughed so much that the very gods laughed with her and high heaven re-echoed with the sounds of mirth. She never went near her loom, vowing to live her life to the fullest, never weaving again. Her father got angry and regretted his decision, warning his daughter three times and finally banishing the Herd Boy to the far side of the Bright River. The Weaving Maiden was the saddest thing in Heaven. She went back to her loom and took up the shuttle, but she had changed. She now wove her dreams and her tears into the garments, which sometimes were grey with grief and sometimes rosy with dreams. Her father was pleased but refused to give her back her lover. Finally, he relented and promised that on the seventh day of the seventh moon he would summon all the magpies in Heaven to form a bridge so that she could cross over to her waiting Herd Boy lover. As she crossed, her eyes were like stars and her heart like a bird. And so it is today that on the seventh day of the seventh moon, the two star lovers always keep their tryst unless rain falls with thunder and clouds and hail, and the Bright River of Heaven is swollen and swift, and the magpies cannot make a bridge for the Weaving Maiden... and that is why true lovers pray to the gods for fair weather.

(This web page updated 12/28/05; 11/13/08)


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