A new offering by award-winning poet Tony Mitton, beautifully illustrated by Peter Bailey.

Short installments comprise The Tale of Tales, the story of a group of animals making their way to Volcano Valley to hear the Tale of Tales, the greatest story ever told. Along the way, the animals meet new travelers and each shares his own story with the group.

This delightful ...
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Tale of Tales

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A new offering by award-winning poet Tony Mitton, beautifully illustrated by Peter Bailey.

Short installments comprise The Tale of Tales, the story of a group of animals making their way to Volcano Valley to hear the Tale of Tales, the greatest story ever told. Along the way, the animals meet new travelers and each shares his own story with the group.

This delightful story, filled with humor and warmth, and charmingly illustrated throughout with line drawings, is sure to become a favorite for reading aloud, as well as for newly independent readers.

From the Hardcover edition.

On their way to Volcano Valley to hear "The Tale of Tales," Monkey, Elephant, and other animal friends tell each other stories as they walk along.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With bold black-and-white silhouettes and sprightly verse settings of old tales, Mitton and Bailey (previously paired for Pip) produce a book that looks and reads much like a treasure from grandmother's attic. When Monkey overhears that the Tale of Tales is to be told in Volcano Valley, he sets off, and convinces the jungle animals he encounters to attend the momentous event with him. He doesn't know much about the Tale of Tales (and neither do readers; the story ends abruptly, the moment before it's told) but that doesn't dampen his excitement. "Are you coming?" he says to his first recruit, Elephant. "Go on. Think of it. The Tale of Tales." Traveling along the Story Road, each animal who joins the procession contributes a yarn. Many, like "Rip Van Winkle," "Five Men and the Elephant" (here titled "The Obstacle") and "Anansi Meets Big Snake," are old favorites. Mitton's rhythmic lines give them extra kick: "And Ali looked on in amazement/ as the bag seemed to billow and swell./ It gobbled the men and their weapons, and then/ it golloped the horses as well." For the animals' tales-within-tales, Bailey switches from silhouettes to engaging ink drawings with etching-style shading. While mysterious mention of a Tale of Tales which never materializes may frustrate younger readers especially, Bailey's striking illustrations will invite repeated viewings, and older readers will enjoy working through the whole narrative frame. Ages 5-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
One hundred and eight pages of an ongoing story that includes stories within the main story, it begins in the jungle when monkey overhears two parrots talking about "the greatest story ever told." It is to be revealed at Volcano Valley, so the parrots fly off to find this place. Of course, the curious monkey decides to follow. Along the way, he bumps into an elephant. Monkey tells him of his plan and they both set off together to find Volcano Valley and the answer to the "tale of tales." As they amble along monkey decides to tell elephant a story to help pass the time. And so it goes—as the elephant and monkey encounter other animals on their journey, they join the trek to Volcano Valley and each shares a story along the way. The stories are fable-like tales written in various styles of poetic verse such as limericks or iambic pentameter. Readers may recognize some of the stories' fairy tale inspired moral messages. The trek continues to gather animals and tales until it reaches Volcano Valley where, as promised, the tale of tales is revealed. Old-fashioned black and white drawings add to the period feel of this saga. 2003, Random House, Ages 5 to 8.
—Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-Upon overhearing from the parrots that the "Tale of Tales" would be told in Volcano Valley that very afternoon, a monkey sets off on Story Road to hear it. Along the way, he meets up with an elephant and the two share stories to pass the time. As they proceed, a total of eight animals join them, each telling a story. Readers will recognize some of the rhymed tales, such as "The Elephant and the Blind Men" told by Elephant, an Anansi trickster tale related by Spider, "Rip Van Winkle" told by Bear, a Pookah story from Owl, and a Jack story narrated by Cat. The selections have differing rhyme schemes, but in all cases, the word choices are unforced and natural. The colloquial narrative between the stories reads well and young listeners will enjoy the variety. Unfortunately, it builds to a bit of an anticlimax; as the animals gather, the ancient baboon begins, "Once Upon a Time-" and listeners are left to imagine what happens next. Bailey's excellent pen-and-ink illustrations, silhouettes, and motifs decorate each page of this elegantly designed collection of tales within a tale.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As Monkey travels down the story road, he rounds a bend-only to slap into Elephant. After dusting the monkey off, the elephant joins Monkey on his way to Volcano Valley, where they anticipate finding the "tale of tales." To amuse one another they begin to tell stories-first about the clever servant girl and then "The Obstacle" (a version of the classic tale of the elephant and the blind mice). Other animals join them and tell their own story-an Anansi tale and even a story of Rip Van Winkle. Some are told in rhyming couplets and others in prose. At last the animals arrive in the valley, and as they wait quietly for the great storyteller, a deep voice comes from within the cave: "Once upon a time . . ." Black-and-white drawings and silhouettes nestle among the paragraphs on most pages. Full-page illustrations highlight each of the nine journey tales. A pleasure-filled journey indeed. (Folktale. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307560490
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/4/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • File size: 13 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Tony Mitton

Tony Mitton is a widely anthologized children's poet, as well as a teacher and performing poet. His Royal Raps won the 1997 Nottinghamshire Libraries/Dillons Children's Book Award. His recent collection of poetry, Plum, won the Publishers Weekly 2003 Cuffies Award for Best Book of Poetry. Tony teamed with illustrator Ant Parker on several books, including Dazzling Diggers, Roaring Rockets, and Terrific Trains. Ant Parker studied drawing and printing at the Bath Academy of Art in England and has taught papermaking, printing and bookbinding workshops for children.
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