Realistic Appalachian Picture Books

By Judy A. Teaford and Tina L. Hanlon


Realistic Appalachian Picture Books by Author

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AND Fantasy and Concept Books that Contain Realism

Appalachian Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (on a separate page)

Folktale Picture Book Bibliography (on a separate page)

Related AppLit Resources: 

Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Fiction
Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Folklore
Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Picture Books

Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Poetry

Picture Books with Cherokee Themes



Allen, Nancy Kelly. The Munched-Up Flower Garden. Illus. K. M. Crawford. New York: Red Rock Press, 2006. "Liz works hard on her flower garden, hoping to win a blue ribbon at the annual Troublesome Creek picnic, but she wakes up on the morning of the picnic to find that her flowers have been eaten by a goat." Troublesome Creek is in eastern Kentucky.

Allen, Nancy Kelly. Trouble in Troublesome Creek. Illus. K. M. Crawford. New York: Red Rock Press, 2010. "This book is a sequel to The Munched-Up Flower Garden. The Troublesome Creek kids find strange looking rocks as they explore a cave. The rocks are Minnie balls, old bullets left by soldiers from the Civil War, over 150 years ago. Water from the cave drips onto the bullets and the lead-poisoned water is killing the fish in Troublesome Creek."

Appelt, Kathi. The Best Kind of Gift. Illus. Paul Brett Johnson. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. See page on this book in Appelt's web site. A humorous story about a boy wanting to give a gift to the new parson. "The soft, acrylic illustrations expressively portray Jory and his family as they choose their gifts and give advice to Jory" (Jennifer Smith, "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature." Children and Libraries, vol. 5, Winter 2007, p. 36).

Balderose, Nancy Ward. Once Upon A Christmas Pony: A Mountain Christmas. Illus. Nancy Ward Balderose. Ridgefield, CT: Morehouse Publishing, 1992. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Bates, Artie Ann. Ragsale. Illus. Jeff Chapman-Crane. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. "Jessann and her family spend Saturday going to the ragsales of their Appalachian town."El Deafo cover by Bell

Bell, Cece. El Deafo! New York: Amulet Books/Abrams, 2014. Not a picture book but a graphic memoir by a SW Virginia author. A 2015 Newbery Honor book. Using rabbit figures as the characters, it tells of Bell's comical and heart-warming experiences when, after an early childhood illness, she and her teachers needed to use cumbersome equipment to help with her hearing disability. She imagined herself as a superhero because she had extraordinary hearing powers when using the equipment. Visuals in the graphic narrative, such as speech balloons, allowed Bell to convey her experiences with what she could and couldn't hear in innovative ways. The publisher web site contains a teaching guide and other background. NPR Interview, Dec. 2014. See also NY Times review Aug. 22, 2014, YouTube video of Bell discussing her book, and Guardian article on making of the book.

Belton, Sandra. From Miss Idaís Porch. Illus. Floyd Cooper. New York: Four Winds, 1993. Belton's book re-examines the past, revealing truths not limited to the Appalachian regionóa past life where African Americans are not allowed to sleep in motels, where Duke Ellington and Marian Anderson are not allowed to sing in certain places. Here the community comes together to reminisce, to share a history that is very much a part of Appalachian and national history.

Belton, Sandra. May'naise Sandwiches & Sunshine Tea.  New York: Four Winds Press, 1994. "Big Mama reminisces with her grandchild about a childhood experience that helped inspire her to be the first member of her family to attend college." 

Berry, Wendell. Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World. Illus. David Te Selle. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2009. Detailed description of the life of a white-footed mouse, peromyscus leucopus, asking the reader to consider her point of view and feeling that she lives at the center of the world. She floats along for days in a flood and has to wait until it is safe to build a new home in the woods. Originally published as an article in Orion Magazine Jan.-Feb. 2007 (available online).

Birdseye, Tom. Airmail to the Moon. Illus. Stephen Gammell. Holiday House, 1988. "When the tooth that she was saving for the tooth fairy disappears, Ora Mae sets out to find the thief and send him "airmail to the moon!" See background and illustrations at Tom Birdseye: Children's Book Author.  

Birdseye, Tom, and Debbie Holsclaw Birdseye. She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain. Illus. Andrew Glass. New York: Holiday House, 1994. See background and illustrations at Tom Birdseye: Children's Book Author.
Junk Pile cover

Borton, Lady. Junk Pile. Illus. Kimberly Bulcken Root. New York: Philomel, 1997. "Helping out in her father's auto junk yard has taught Jamie how to fix the schoolbus, but the other children's teasing still hurts until she learns how to fix a friendship as well."

Bradby, Marie. Momma, Where Are You From? Illus. Chris K. Soentpiet. New York: Orchard Books, 2000. Momma tells her young daughter where she came from by recalling special moments from her past in rich detail. She tells of peddlers, segregated schools, listening to Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and close ties with neighbors and family. Realistic, beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations add to the authenticity of the book.

Bradby, Marie. More Than Anything Else. Illus. Chris K. Soentpiet. New York: Orchard Books, 1995. Powerful story about Booker T. Washington's childhood hunger for learning to read, in a time when it was forbidden for slaves to read. Booker is nine years old, working at the salt More Than Anything Else coverworks in WV after emancipation (He was born in Franklin County, VA). The story ends when he begins to learn the alphabet. Additional information is available on Soenpiet's web site.

Brown, Elizabeth Ferguson. Coal Country Christmas. Illus. Harvey Stevenson. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2003. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Buck, Pearl S. Christmas Day in the Morning. Illus. Mark Buehner. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Danielís Duck. Illus. Joan Sandin. An I Can Read Book. New York: HarperTrophy, 1980. 64 pp. Level 3 in the I Can Read series. "A novice wood carver is momentarily defeated when people laugh at the result of a winter of work." "Daniel decides he hates the duck he has carved until the best wood-carver in Tennessee admires it."


Carroll, Ruth, and Latrobe Carroll. Tatum Family Series (see annotated bibliography in AppLit at this link)

Carson, Jo. Pulling My Leg. Illus. Julie Downing. New York: Orchard Books, 1990. A comical story about a girl losing a tooth with help from a joking uncle.

Carson, Jo. You Hold Me and I'll Hold You. Illus. Annie Cannon. New York: Orchard Books, 1992. A young girl tells how she and her father deal with the death of her great-aunt. There are few culturally specific details but Carson is an important Appalachian author from eastern Tennessee.

Cash, John Carter. Momma Loves Her Little Son. Illus. Marc Burckhardt. New York: Little Simon Inspirations, 2009. "Grammy Award winning John Carter Cash creates a lyrical painting based on the intimate words his mother, June Carter Cash, shared with him as a child. Captured in the exquisite Americana art of illustrator Marc Burckhardt, an expression of love between mother and son comes to life in vibrant simplicity. From the farthest shores to the deepest oceans, a mother’s love for her child is without bounds. Little ones will be swept away on a magical adventure over mountains and skyscrapers and through forests and streams in this tender and joyful celebration of the enduring bond between mother and child."

Caudill, Rebecca. A Certain Small Shepherd. Illus. William Pene Du Bois. New York: Henry Holt, 1965. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Caudill, Rebecca. A Pocket Full of Cricket. Illus Evaline Ness. New York: Holt Owlet, 1964. Rpt. New York: Henry Holt, 1992. A boy who prepares to begin school by stuffing his pockets full of things he finds attracts attention on the first day of school with a pet cricket in his pocket.

Caudill, Rebecca, and James Sterling Ayars. Contrary Jenkins. Illus. Glen Rounds. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969. Humorous stories. "Relates the episodes in the life of Contrary Jenkins as he lived by the 'law of contrary' in Tennessee and Arkansas."

Cecka, Melanie and Jan Karon. Jan Karon Presents Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay. Illus. Emily Arnold McCully. New York: Viking Children's Books, 2006. "Violet, a little white cat, tries out several homes before she finds just the right one." Picture book related to Jan Karon's Mitford series of novels, set in the fictional town of Mitford, NC, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in which Cynthia Coppersmith is a character.

Cecka, Melanie and Jan Karon. Jan Karon Presents Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Goes to the Country. Illus. Emily Arnold McCully. New York: Viking, 2007. "During a trip to the country, curiosity and excitement get Violet, the little white cat, into all kinds of trouble, much to the dismay of Alice's uncle, who 'was never much of a cat person.'" Picture book related to Jan Karon's Mitford series of novels, set in the fictional town of Mitford, NC, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in which Cynthia Coppersmith is a character.

Chaffin, Lillie D. We Be Warm Till Springtime Comes. Illus. Lloyd Bloom. New York: Macmillan, 1980. 32 pp. "Young Jimmy Jack Blackburn searches for fuel to keep his mother and baby sister warm through a severe Appalachian winter." See short review and cover at blog Granny Sue's News and Reviews by Susanna Holstein in WV.Moon Over Tennessee Cover with wood engraving

Crist-Evans, Craig. Moon Over Tennessee: A Boyís Civil War Journal. Illus. Bonnie Christensen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. 60 pp. Publisher's description: "In the spring of 1863, a thirteen-year-old boy leaves his home in northeastern Tennessee with his father, who has joined the Confederate army. The boy rides with him to care for the horses and help with camp duties. A moving personal narrative in the form of a journal, this powerful poem tells of one boy's journey into war - and the horrible climax at Gettysburg that would forever change his life. Illustrated with striking black-and-white woodcuts, Moon Over Tennessee is a vivid, lyrical, and intensely human document of the terrible personal cost of the Civil War." The boy's best friend at home is the son of a freed slave. (Excerpts including critically acclaimed illustrations available at Google Books on 1/23/15). Crist-Evans was awarded the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for this book.

Crum, Shutta. My Mountain Song. Illus. Ted Rand. New York: Clarion, 2004. Kentuckian Brenda Gail learns that everyone has a song inside them. However, she has to decide if she wants to include her pesky cousin Melvin in her special song. Delightful and rich illustrations add to the lyrical text. See review in ALCA-Lines.

Cyr, Annette. Good News Bees and Tuliptrees. Littleton, MA: Sundance Pub, 1995. "Cut-paper collages and lyrical story explore the seasonal changes that occur in the Appalachian Mountains."


Ebel, Julia Taylor. The Picture Man. Illus. Idalia Canter. Boone, NC: Parkway, 2009. "An Appalachian farm girl and her brother have their pictures made by a traveling photographer in the 1940s. Includes facts about 'picture men,' early photography, and instructions for making a shoebox camera" (WorldCat). As noted in Appalachian Heritage, Summer 2009, it includes "actual pictures taken by pictureman W. R. Trivett, who served as a traveling photographer in Avery and Watauga Counties in North Carolina from 1907 to the early 1940s" (p. 96).

Erwin, Casey. Our Daddy Is a Coal Miner. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2007. 15 pp. "Ethan and Ashton learn from their father what coal is used for, how it forms, and how important it is to West Virginia."

Fireside, Bryna J. Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder. Illus. Shawn Costello. Minneapolis: Kar-Ben Pub, 2008. 47 pp. Camped out in WV, "a group of Jewish soldiers, and three freed slaves, have a Passover seder in 1862 on the battlefields of the Civil War." Includes historical background. Private Joel's regiment from Ohio marched hundreds of miles through WV and spent the winter in Fayette keeping the railroad safe from Confederate soldiers in the Sewell Mountains. The author was inspired by an article by a rabbi and found the names of some of the Jewish soldiers through further research. The freed slaves in the story are fictional but based on research about former slaves joining many Union regiments. Google Preview provides a glimpse at a number of pages and illustrations.

Frazee, Marla. Hush, Little Baby: A Folk Song with Pictures. Illus. Marla Frazee. NY: Harcourt, 1999. A traditional lullaby illustrated with images from the Appalachian Mountains. "A baby is promised an assortment of presents from its adoring parent."


Gibbons, Faye. The Day the Picture Man Came. Illus. Sherry Meidell. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2003. 32 pp. Humorous story about the day Emily Howard's parents try to get their big farm family to pose for a traveling photographer. Called "a rollicking, laugh-out-loud read" with "delightfully exaggerate[d]" watercolors by Publishers Weekly (2/15/03 review).

Gibbons, Faye. Emma Jo's Song. Illus. Sherry Meidell. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2001. 32 pp. "Emma Jo thinks she is the only nonmusical member of her very musical family, but when she goes to the Puckett family reunion she discovers her gift." The family's howling dog plays a role in Emma's story. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" observes, "Soft illustrations join in the telling of Emma’s story. Everyone is coming for the family reunion, where . . . Rip the hound dog is banned . . . because every time Emma sings, he howls. Finally, it is Emma’s time to sing at the reunion, but she can’t do it until Rip happily joins in." [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): pp. 35-6.]

Gibbons, Faye. Mama and Me and the Model T. Illus. Ted Rand. New York: Morrow, 1999. "When Mama gets behind the wheel of the new Model-T which her husband just drove into the yard of their Georgia mountain home, she proves that she can drive a car as well as the men of the family."

Gibbons, Faye. Mountain Wedding. Illus. Ted Rand. New York: Morrow, 1996. "The children from two mountain families about to be joined in a wedding change their minds about each other only after all of them together cooperate in a rescue."

Giovanni, Nikki. knoxville, tennessee. Illus. Larry Johnson. New York: Scholastic, 1994. Giovanni's poem about her childhood has been reprinted in many places, including this picture book with Johnson's rich double-spread oil paintings. "Describes the joys of summer spent with family in Knoxville: eating vegetables right from the garden, going to church picnics, and walking in the mountains."

Gorman, Nan Hagan. Appalachian Christmas: Stories & Illustrations. Hazard, KY: Ad East, 2004. 32 pp.

Gove, Doris. My Mother Talks to Trees. Illus. Marilynn H. Mallory. Atlanta: Peachtree Pub, 1999. "Although embarrassed when her mother stops and talks to all the trees on their walk, a girl joins her in admiring their leaves, flowers, needles, and seeds and recognizes them as a source of beauty" (WorldCat). A Tennessee author includes facts about 11 Southern trees.

Gove, Doris. One Rainy Night. Illus. Walter Krudop. New York: Atheneum, 1994. "A boy and his mother go out on a rainy night to collect animals for a nature center that releases its specimens to the wild after two weeks" (WorldCat).

Gray, Libba Moore. When Uncle Took the Fiddle. Illus. Lloyd Bloom. New York: Orchard Books, 1999. "Uncle's inspired playing of the fiddle causes sleepy family members to pick up other instruments and join him, while the neighbors come to join the celebration."

Griggs, Leland. Posted: No Trespassing. Illus. Russell Jewell. Pickens, SC: Meadow Spring Publishing, 2001. The author and illustrator are both Appalachian naturalists. Inspired by Thoreau, the book portrays the author's attempt to claim an abandoned farm that had been taken over by many kinds of wildlife. "Griggs . . . provides a clear message that humans, animals and nature can live in harmony if external forces do not disrupt its delicate and intricate balance. . . . As the illustration and text reveal, a hasty governmental act could cause this ecosystem to die." Quotation from Review by Bea Bailey in ALCA-Lines: Journal of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, vol. IX (2001): 16-17.


Harshman, Marc. Moving Days. Illus. Wendy Popp. New York:  Holiday House, 1995. Harshmanís book is a well-written and beautifully illustrated picture book whose universal appeal will allow all children to identify with it.

Harshman, Marc. Only One. Illus. Barbara Garrison. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1993. 

See Marc Harshman author page for more detailed information on his works, philosophy, etc.

Harshman, Marc and Cheryl Ryan. Red Are the Apples. Illus. Wade Zahares. San Diego: Gulliver Books, 2001.

Haynes, Mary. Pot Belly Tales. Illus. Michael J. Deraney. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1982.

Hedrick, Helen G. Life and Times of Ole Roan. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing, 2008. 38 pp. "Recounts the story of four children, their life in 1920s rural West Virginia, and their relationship to their beloved milk cow, Ole Roan."

Hedrick, Helen G. Sis and the Singing Hens. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing, 2001. 32 pp. "A children’s heartwarming tribute to Appalachian culture in the mountains" (publisher's description).

Hedrick, Helen G. Tails, Trails, & Pies: An Appalachian Cattle Drive. Illus. Sue A. M. Spiker. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books, 2009. "Dodd and Charley drive Mr. Jeff's cattle from his farm in Grant County over the mountain to summer pasture in Randolph County...Petersburg, WV to the Sinks of Gandy."

Hendershot, Judith. In Coal Country. Illus. Thomas B. Allen. New York: Dragon Fly Books, 1987. Like Smuckerís No Star Nights, In Coal Country also reveals pollution, that of mining and railroading. Honest text and realistic illustrations present a genuine picture of Willow Grove. Like the children playing on the slag hill in Smuckerís book, the children in this book play on gob piles, oblivious to the danger they may encounter. Here again, hard work is a real part of Appalachian life, and family harmony is part of what makes this tough life worthwhile. Hendershot, who grew up in Neffs, Ohio (near Wheeling, WV, and "just down the road from the Willow Grove coal mine"), wrote, "In Coal Country is an honest recollection of a very happy time in my life. It was easy to write about, .... I reveled in thy brother, and me by our parents. They were deeply interested in the world outside our hills and recounted world and local events to us often. It was the keeping of those stories from my childhood that allowed me to see the significance of life in a coal mining town as I grew older.... As a child, I used to dream about life outside of coal country. Now that I no longer live there, I dream about being back" (Sixth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, 1989, pp. 122-23).

Henson, Heather. Angel Coming. Illus. Susan Gaber. Atheneum, 2005. Publisher description: "High in the hills of Kentucky, a little girl eagerly awaits the arrival of a very special visitoróan 'angel' who, she is told, will come riding up the mountain on horseback, carrying a baby sister or brother in her saddlebag. ... This gem of a story highlights a little-known piece of American history: the Frontier Nursing Service, a pioneering group of women who came to be called 'angels on horseback.'" An author's note describes Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service in the early 20th century. The girl's first-person verse narrative includes details of mountain life and customs surrounding the birth of a child.

Henson, Heather. That Book Woman. Illus. David Small. Atheneum, 2008. Text in verse is narrated by a farm boy living high up in the mountains far away from schools. Cal is not a scholar but his sister Lark, "the readenest child / you ever did see," who likes to play Teacher, views books as golden treasures. Cal's admiration for the book woman's selfless bravery and the confinement of a harsh winter lead him to reading under Lark's gentle instruction. The book woman, who arrives on horseback in all kinds of weather to loan books, will not accept payment except for the gift of a recipe and the pleasure of hearing Cal read. Illustrations in soft colors are in ink, watercolor, and pastel chalk, including sunset scenes of children reading on their mountain porch. The Author's Note gives background and references on the book women of the Pack Horse Library Project in eastern Kentucky, founded in the 1930s by the WPA. (See photos at New Deal Network Photo Gallery and book by Appelt in AppLit bibliography Appalachian Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.)

Hiser, Berniece T. The Adventure of Charlie and His Wheat-Straw Hat: A Memorat. Illus. Mary Szilagyi. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986. During the hard times of the Civil War, when seven-year-old Charlie of Frozen Creek, KY needs a straw hat for his first day of school and his Granny makes him one, his attempt to save his hat from rebel soldiers and hungry sheep result in his reward for saving a neighbor's cattle. Miriam Bein's review praises Hiser's use of dialect and Szilagyi's illustrations (in Now and Then, vol. 4.1, Spring 1987,  p. 32).

Hodson, Debbie. A Mountain Rainbow. Illus. Miriam Moyer. Emmalena, KY: IvyStone Press, 2004. 30 pp. Five chapters with soft, rainbow-colored illustrations and borders throughout. The author and artist are both from southeastern KY. Nellie loves her mountain home in the 1930s but her family decides to move north so her father can work in a factory instead of the mines. There is a touch of magic when Nellie catches a miniature rainbow in her hand and puts it in her heart. She adjusts to city life and visits her grandparents in the summer. When her own children are grown, Nellie convinces her husband to move to the mountains with her and their grandchildren visit Granny Nellie.

Horstman, Lisa. Smoky Mountain Wee Ones. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Assoc., 2003. A board book comparing games of human babies with similar activities of Smoky Mountain wildlife babies.

Horstman, Lisa. The Troublesome Cub in the Great Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 2001. For details, see AppLit bibliography Nature and the Environment in Appalachian Literature.

Houston, Gloria. But No Candy. Illus. Lloyd Bloom. New York: Philomel Books, 1992. A girl starting first grade lives above her father's general store and writes to her uncle in World War II, when there is no more candy for the store. Her father trades with a gypsy to give his wife candy for Valentine's Day. When the war is over and Uncle Ted returns with chocolate to share, Lee, the girl, realizes she is growing up, life changes, and now she places less importance on candy.Exhibit Reading Appalachia bookmobile

Houston, Gloria. Littlejim's Gift: An Appalachian Christmas Story. Illus. Thomas B. Allen. New York: Philomel Books, 1994. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Houston, Gloria. Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile. Illus  Harper, 2011. "Dorothy has always wanted to work in a library like the red brick one of her girlhood, but after moving to rural North Carolina she discovers that the type of library is less important than the books and the people who read them. But her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries, so Miss Dorothy and her neighbors decide to start a bookmobile. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them—at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!.... an inspiring story about the love of books, the power of perseverance, and how a librarian can change people's lives." Photo at right (by Tina L. Hanlon) from museum exhibit Teaching Appalachia, Knoxville, 2014.
My Great Aunt Arizona cover
Houston, Gloria. My Great-Aunt Arizona. Illus Susan Condie Lamb. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. 
Rather than the stereotypical picture of uneducated, ignorant Appalachians, Houstonís book offers a more valid picture of real teachers and one-room schools in the Appalachian region. This is a moving story of a lively, loving woman (Houston's real great-aunt) who dedicated her life to teaching, showing the scope of her life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC from childhood through 57 years of teaching and old age. She did her duty to her family as well as pursuing her own dream of going off to school and becoming a teacher. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" discusses the play rhyme “William Matrimmatoe” in this book and Rebecca Caudill's Tree of Freedom. [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 33.] See more details in HarperCollins web pages on the book, author, and illustrator; Review at Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site; and Lesson plan by Nancy Polette, 1999, in Nancy Polette's Children's Literature Site.

Houston, Gloria. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. Illus. Barbara Cooney. New York: Dial Books, 1988. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" discusses a type of traditional carol that includes “Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head” and notes that it appears in this World War I story. [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 32.]

Howard, Elizabeth Fitzgerald. Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys. Illus. E. B. Lewis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. "In the post-Civil War South, a young African American girl is determined to prove that she can go to school just like her older brothers. Virgie, youngest in a family of boys, vows that she will accompany her brothers when they walk the seven miles to school every Monday morning. All Virgie wants is to go to school with her brothers George, Will, Nelson, Val, and C. C. But they keep saying she's too little for the long, seven-mile walk, and that girls don't need school. Well, Virgie doesn't agree, and she's not gonna let anything stand in her way." Howard wrote this story about her grandfather's family and the stories his brother Will told to younger generations. A photograph of the real brothers is included in the book with background notes. Howard visited Jonesborough, TN to learn about the Quaker school called the Warner Institute, which enabled Virgie and others to pursue education, "learning to be free."


Isaacs, John. A Doggone Good Story. Illus. Jey Manokaran. Lawrenceburg, KY: J. Isaacs, 2006. Set in the 1950s.


Johnson, Paul BrettFarmers' MarketNew York: Orchard Books, 1997. Set in Lexington, KY, where a child accompanies her farm family to an open-air market.

Johnston, Tony. Amber on the Mountain. Illus.  Robert Duncan. New York: Puffin Books, 1994. "Isolated on her mountain, Amber meets and befriends a girl from the city who gives her the determination to learn to read and write." Some reviewers express confusion about whether the book looks Appalachian or modern, or not.

Justus, May. Barney, Bring Your Banjo. Illus. Jean Tamburine.  New York: Henry Holt, 1959.

Justus, May. Sammy. Illus. Christine Chisholm. Chicago: Albert Whitman, 1946.

Justus, May. Susie. Illus. Christine Chisholm. Chicago:  Albert Whitman, 1947.

See Books by May Justus for more comprehensive annotated list of author's work and links to other resources.


Kemp, Steve. We're Going to the Mountains. Illus. Lisa Horstman. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Assoc., 2008. The text for early readers and bright borderless illustrations emphasize a variety of sensory experiences associated with visiting mountains as a family: sight, hearing, smelling, motion, thinking, feeling, and sleeping outdoors.

Kemp, Steve. Who Pooped in the Park?: The Great Smoky Mountains! Illus. Robert Rath. Helena, MT: Farcountry Press, 2005. "The latest in this unconventional series of storybooks makes learning about wildlife tracks and scat (poop) fun. Perfect for youths ages 7-11, this book follows a family of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains as they join a park ranger for a wildlife walk. Learn the clues for 'seeing' deer, bear, rabbit, wild hog, wild turkey, coyote, skunk, and more. 48 pages. Full color."

Kirby, Ellie. The Legend of Caty Sage. True story of a small child who disappeared from a Grayson County farm in 1792.

Kirby, Ellie. Under the Snowball Tree. Troutdale, VA: Fox Creek Press, 1986. "Depicts the gentle activities of the occupants of a farmhouse under a snowball tree." The author's web site says, "Her work is inspired by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains."

Kerns, Thelma. You Don't Pat a Bee. Illus. Bryant Owens. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 2000. Advice for children based on sayings of children in the author's life. See picture and short description at Overmountain web site.

Kurtz, Shirley. Applesauce. Illus. Cheryl Benner. Intercourse, PA:  Good Books, 1992. "A family works together to make enough applesauce to last through the coming winter. Includes directions for canning applesauce." By a resident of WV.

Kurtz, Shirley. Birthday Chickens. Illus. Cheryl A. Benner. Intercourse, PA:  Good Books, 1994. "A boy's birthday brings him a host of chickens, whose care consumes his attention and eventually that of the entire family."

Kurtz, Shirley. The Boy and the Quilt. Illus. Cheryl A. Benner. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 1991. "With a little help from his mother and sister, a young boy makes a quilt of his own. Includes instructions for making a quilt and a comforter." By a WV writer.


LaFaye, A. Walking Home to Rosie Lee. Illus. Keith D. Shepherd. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press, 2011. LaFaye's poetic text contributes to filling the gap in picture books about post-Civil-War history. Walking Home to Rosie Lee CoverYoung Gabe, like many children and adults in his situation after the Civil War, tells of his long walk into Appalachian Tennessee in search of his mother Rosie Lee, who wears a scarf because her neck was injured when she was punished for trying to escape. He meets a variety of people along the way who help and advise him. In a 2011 interview about this book with Cynthia Leitich Smith in her Cynsations site, LaFaye discusses the lack of children's books about the reunification of African American families during Reconstruction, this book's origins in research she did for her novel Stella Stands Alone (set in Mississippi), and her editor Lee Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press.

Lambert, Paulette Livers. Evening: An Appalachian Lullaby. Illus. Paulette Lambert. New York: Rinehart, 1995. Two young boys are lulled to sleep by the sounds of the Appalachian night and their father's fiddling. This story is based on a traditional Kentucky lullaby persuading children to come in from the wilderness. The father and sons are depicted in borderless paintings. The musical score is provided at the end. The author/illustrator grew up in a large Kentucky musical family. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" observes, "Rich, colorful illustrations reflect the words of the lullaby while depicting a secondary story of a father and his young sons playing a game of hide and seek as the boys attempt to avoid bedtime." [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 35.]

Laminack, Lester L. Saturdays and Teacakes. Illus Chris Soentpiet. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2004. This memoir from the author's childhood in Heflin, AL tells of Saturdays spent with his grandmother doing chores, talking, and making sweet teacakes. "I wrote this book to honor my grandmother, my mother’s mother, my mammaw. As a child I loved the time I spent with her because, like no other grown up, she had the time to make me the center of her attention, to make me feel so very special" (author's web site). Positive review by Beth Pye in Georgia Library Quarterly (vol. 45, 2008) available online. See also background and lesson plans on illustrator's web site.

LaMotte, David. White Flour. Illus. Jenn Hales. Montreat, NC: Lower Dryad Music, 2012. "In Seussian rhyme, it tells the funny and inspiring story of the day that the Ku Klux Klan met the Coup Clutz Clowns, who offered a whimsical and wise retort to their racist rally. The poem that provides the text for the book was inspired by true events in Knoxville, TN in 2007." The text of the poem is available at the author's web site, and video of the author reading it.

Lawson, John. You Better Come Home with Me. Illus. Arnold Spilka. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1966. Set in the Appalachians, this is the tale of an extraordinary boy in a land both real and alive with legend.  

Lentz, Alice Boggs. Mountain Magic: A Family's Legacy of Faith. Illus. David Griffin. Nashville, TN: Tommy Nelson, 1998."Recalls the lure of the mountains that first draws a family to spend the summer there in Grandmother's house and brings them back year after year even when the children are grown and have children of their own."

Lentz, Alice B.  Tweetsie Adventure.  Illus. Carol B. Murray. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1995. "Marc takes a ride on Tweetsie Railroad and helps the deputies on Tweetsie's opening day." See Overmountain web site for summary and picture.

LeSourd, Nancy. Christy: Christmastime at Cutter Gap. Illus. Bill Farnsworth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2003. Based on the novel by Catherine Marshall. "Christmas is the topic of discussion for Miss Christy and her class at the Cutter Gap schoolhouse. One by one the students share their favorite Smoky Mountain holiday traditions—baking, hunting, and other fun activities. However, Ruby May Morrison, the usually outgoing, mischievous redhead, is silent. When she unexpectedly announces her plans to spend Christmas with her father, Christy is doubtful since Ruby Mae's father has not been in her life in years."

Lyon, George Ella. Basket. Illus. Mary Szilagyi. New York: Orchard, 1990. A heart-warming story about the many uses of a grandmother's oak egg basket. She loses it when she moves and thinks she left important things in it, but after her death her granddaughter finds the basket with only one spool in it. She cherishes the basket that reminds her of her grandmother's familiar rhymes and ways. Includes a song about a spool of thread with music by Steve Lyon provided in the book. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" discusses the original song that is "reminiscent of traditional folk music." [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 34.]

Lyon, George Ella. Cecilís Story. Illus Peter Catalanotto. New York: Orchard, 1991. The second-person poetic text follows a boy imagining how he'll have to struggle on the farm if his father goes off to the Civil War and his mother goes to tend his wounds, but Cecil is reassured that his father's strength and affection remain even if he returns with one arm.

Lyon, George Ella. Come a Tide. Illus. Stephen Gammell. New York: Orchard, 1990. While the humorous illustrations and witty text seemingly ignore the seriousness of a flood, the book does present both the realities of a flood and the importance of family and community working together.

Lyon, George Ella. Mama is a Miner. Illus. Peter Catalanotto. New York: Orchard, 1994. See Lesson Plan for Mama is a Miner by George Ella Lyon. A young girl pays tribute to her mother, a coal miner. The bitter hardship and danger of coal mining are sharply contrasted with the safer, more traditional role of a homemaker.

Lyon, George Ella.  A Regular Rolling Noah.  Illus. Stephen Gammell. New York: Aladdin, 1986. Noah Gabbard from Pathford, KY tells about taking his first train ride to tend the neighbors' animals in a boxcar when they move to flat land in Canada. After he rides home in style, he intends to tell folks, "Be glad you have these mountains to call home." Lively, colorful watercolors emphasize Noah's friendly relations with hoboes and animals, and the changing colors of the sky.

Lyon, George Ella. A Sign. Illus. Chris Soentpiet. New York: Orchard, 1998. A writer tells how she thought of different exciting careers before she discovered that she was meant to "make words glow." Based on Lyon's childhood fascination with neon signs and her neighbor who made them. Bright watercolors depict the child's world in the mid-20th century, including her letter to the President after her school watches the beginning of space travel.

Lyon, George Ella. Who Came Down That Road? Illus. Peter Catalanotto. New York: Orchard, 1992. When a child asks his mother the title question, she tells him of people and animals who traveled the road back into prehistoric times.

See Bibliography of Books by George Ella Lyon for complete list of author's works, and Fantasy and Concept Books that Contain Realism below.


Marie, Nancy. Country Christmas. Illus. Delores Rylan. Grafton, WV, 1979. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

May, Kathy L. Molasses Man. Illus. Felicia Marshall. New York: Holiday House, 2000. Family traditions and the passing down of skills are depicted with strong borderless paintings. A child in a contemporary African American family tells in detail how Grandpa leads the complex process of making molasses from sorghum cane. Family members and neighbors help until the molasses is ready for eating and selling in jars. May's short history of the making of molasses in her "Author's Note" at the end observes that "molasses men" are rare today but they used to be common in the rural South. The author, from eastern Kentucky, observed molasses making in rural Virginia.   

McCutcheon, Sheryl. Riley Goes to the Races. Illus. Toby Mikle. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing, "An ordinary day turns into an adventure when Riley goes to his first motocross race." Written by a mother in Spencer, WV whose son races motocross.

Miles, Miska. Gertrude's Pocket. Illus. Emily A. McCully. Gloucester, Mass: P. Smith, 1984. "Gertrude wanted to hurt Watson but tearing his only shirt brought more serious consequences than she anticipated."

Miles, Miska. Hoagie's Rifle-Gun. Illus. John Schoenherr. Boston: Little, Brown, 1970. 40 pp. "Hunting animals for food is a necessity for Hoagie's poor Appalachian family but it becomes difficult when game has a name."

Millen, C. M. Blue Bowl Down: An Appalachian Rhyme. Illus. Holly Meade. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2004. In this lullaby, an Appalachian mother and child spend time in the evening preparing the dough for resting, just as they will do. The uncomplicated rhyme and bold collages pay tribute to one of life's simpler pleasures.Rag Coat cover

Mills, Lauren. The Rag Coat. Illus. Lauren Mills. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991. A young girl, daughter of a WV miner, finds acceptance by being courageousóby returning to school after the women of her community make her a coat from scraps of cloth full of memories. Mills expanded this story into a forthcoming novel, Minna's Patchwork Coat, to be published by Little, Brown in Nov. 2015.

Mills, Patricia. Until the Cows Come Home. New York: North-South, 1993. Tinted photographs show scenes on a farm in the West Virginia countryside.

Moser, Barry. Good and Perfect Gifts: An Illustrated Retelling of The Gift of the Magi. Illus. Barry Moser. Boston: Little, Brown, 1997. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.


Pack and Banks. Alphabet books on Appalachian culture. See Fantasy and Concept Books that Contain Realism below.

Parton, Dolly. Coat of Many Colors. Illus. Judith Sutton. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. "Dolly Parton's first book for children is based on her own childhood in the rolling Tennessee hills. When a little girl's mama makes her a coat out of rags, the other children at school laugh at her, but she soon learns that riches come in many forms."

Poulsen, Kathleen Phillips. Apple Doll. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 2002. A family story about mountain traditions, including songs and games, with a pattern for an apple doll. See short description at Overmountain web site and review by Charisse Floyd in Foreword Magazine web site, with picture.


Ransom, Candice. Hello, Virginia! 2010. See Fantasy and Concept Books that Contain Realism below.

Ransom, Candice. One Christmas Dawn. Illus. Peter Fiore. BridgeWater Books, 1995. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Ransom, Candice. F. The Promise Quilt. Illus. Ellen Beier. New York: Walker, 1999.  A good book to compare with the novel Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver because the widowed mother and children have to make do with what they have on their farm in Virginia after the Civil War.

Ransom, Candice F. Tractor Day. Illus. Laura J. Bryant. New York: Walker, 2007. In the rhyming text, a young girl tells about spending the day plowing and planting with her father. Her mother, a baby, farm animals, and some watchful crows also appear in the story, depicted in colorful, realistic watercolors. Based on Ransom's childhood on an Appalachian farm and tractor rides with her stepfather, as well as Bryant's experience living among farmers in the Shenandoah Mountains. See illustrations and reviews at Bryant's web site.

Ransom, Candice F. When the Whippoorwill Calls. Illus. Kimberly Bulcken Root. New York: Tambourine, 1995.  Ransom was inspired by the uprooting of Virginia families when "In 1924, a portion of the Blue Ridge was chosen as the site for a national park near the nationís capital. Some 465 families lived within park boundaries. Most of the families did not own the land they lived on and farmed. The landowners sold their property, so the mountain families had to move" (Authorís Note). 

Ryan, Cheryl. Sally Arnold. Illus. Bill Farnsworth. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1996. "A lonely girl befriends an elderly woman who collects things."Appalachia: Voices of Singing Birds cover

Rylant, Cynthia. Appalachia: The Voices of Singing Birds. Illus. Barry Moser. New York: Harcourt, 1991. "Lyrical prose and warm watercolor illustrations bring a 'certain part of the country called Appalachia' alive for young readers. Two award-winning artists, forever touched by their experiences growing up in this unique landscape, have teamed to create a quietly powerful and beautifully crafted portrait of life in a timeless place" (from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt web site). This text is included in Books That Teach Kids to Write by Marianne Saccardi. Santa Barbara, Calif: Libraries Unlimited, 2011. And in Building a Child's Library: Inside Twenty-Five Classic Children's Stories by Miriam Johnson. New York: Paulist Press, 2004.

Rylant, Cynthia. Christmas in the Country. Illus. Diane Goode. New York: Blue Sky Press, 2002. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary.

Rylant, Cynthia. Night in the Country. New York: Bradbury Press, 1986. "Text and illustrations describe the sights and sounds of nighttime in the country" (WorldCat). Although the book does not focus on regional Appalachian details, Rylant wrote that this is one of the books that "came from my memories of those four years" living with her grandparents in small-town WV after her parents divorced, until she was in third grade. "It's that time that seems to have sunk thickest into my brain and my heart and much of what I saw and heard then has come into my books" (Sixth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, 1989, p. 255).

Rylant, Cynthia. The Relatives Came. Illus. Stephen Gammell. New York: Bradbury, 1985. Rylant tells the story of Virginia relatives who leave their home early in the morning to arrive in West Virginia with loads of hugs, laughter, and fun. Gammellís humorous illustrations combine with Rylantís light-hearted and warm text to recall the wonder and delight of family visits, reunions that remind readers of the harmony of a long standing Appalachian tradition. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" notes that Gammell' s full-page illustration of a family band playing while others eat and work exemplifies an old-time string band. [Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 32.]. Gammell included himself as the man in the green and white striped shirt, blue jeans, and red tennis shoes playing the guitar in this picture. Awarded a 1986 Caldecott honor.

Rylant, Cynthia. Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story. Illus Chris K. Soentpiet. New York: Orchard Books, 1987. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary. See also background, images, quotes from the author and illustrator, teachers' lesson plans, and a video reading of the book at the artist's web site.

Rylant, Cynthia. This Year's Garden. Illus. Mary Szilagyi. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1994. Rylant summons fond memories of the changing seasons while children and adults alike wait to plant the new garden. It celebrates the family working together and the coming together of the community.

Rylant, Cynthia. When I Was Young in the Mountains. Illus. Diane Goode. New York: Dutton, 1982. A nostalgic look back at Rylantís own youth in West Virginia, this is the tale of a young girlís memories of growing up in the 1950s, the grand-daughter of an Appalachian coal-mining family. The lack of amenities such as running water and electricity is clearly portrayed in Rylantís book; however, there is sentimentality in the adult narratorís memory. The focus is on the harmony of family and community life. Awarded a 1983 Caldecott honor.


Seabrooke, Brenda. Looking for Diamonds. Illus. Nancy Mantha. New York: Cobblehill, 1995. "A young girl shares a special visit with her grandparents in the countryside."

Seale, Galya Dowdy. The Little Squash Seed. Illus. Galya Dowdy Seale. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 2003. Story about the miracle of gardening by a native of Bristol, TN. Picture and short description at Overmountain web site.

Seymour, Tres. Hunting the White Cow. Illus. Wendy Anderson Halperin. New York:  Orchard, 1993. A young girls tells about her southern Kentucky family's search for their missing cow. The story is a little like a cumulative nursery rhyme or folktale as the girl's father recruits an increasing number of men to help him every time the cow is spotted in a different place. The men tell the narrator she can't go along and they will only be gone a short time, but their prediction of the time required increases with each attempt, and they return home plagued by increasing stickers, smudges, and pains. Their refrain after each failure refers to the cow as "one smart dude," "smartest cow in the county," and one that "always had a pretty calf." Even Papaw, the greatest cow-caller in the region, can't catch the cow. The narrator goes off by herself and gently gets the cow on a rope, but loses their battle of wills when she falls asleep and the cow breaks the rope. Remaining hopeful at the end, she learns cow-calling from Papaw. The pencil and watercolor illustrations in soft colors and a delicate style depict hilly farm landscapes, a mid-twentieth-century home, and a country store. Text boxes are nestled between the main scenes in each double-page spread and smaller panels across the bottom depicting specific details from the story.

Seymour, Tres. We Played Marbles. Illus. Dan Andreasen. New York: Orchard Books, 1998."When friends playing on a Civil War battlefield begin to imitate what happened there, Papaw asks them to quit because he knows a better game."

Shelby, AnneHomeplace. Illus. Wendy Anderson Halperin. New York: Orchard, 1995. A Richard Jackson book. "A grandmother and grandchild trace their family history."

Shelby, AnneWe Keep a Store. Illus. John Ward. New York: Orchard Place, 1990. Like Homeplace, based on Shelby's familyís homeplace in Clay County, Kentucky.

Smucker, Anna Egan. No Star Nights. Illus. Steve Johnson. New York: Knopf, 1989. Smucker recalls her life in the small mill town of Weirton, West Virginia. The harsh realities of working in an Appalachian steel millóthe pollution, the dangeróare honestly presented in both text and illustrations. However, there is tenderness present in the adult narratorís memories of her childhood. Additionally, Johnsonís warm, hazy oil paintings help mute the harshness of life in the small mill town.

Smucker, Anna Egan. Outside the Window. Illus. Stacey Schuett. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

See Anna Smucker author pages for more detailed information on books, including lesson plans, activities, author bibliography.

Sullivan, Sarah. Root Beer and Banana. Illus. Greg Shed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2005. Molly tells about visiting the general store on a hot summer day with her grandfather, making friends with a girl who helps solve the dilemma about whether to get a root beer or banana ice pop. The girls get one of each, trade halves, and sit under a tree with a dog, "swapping stories / the way old friends do." The new friend is named Miracle because she was born after her mother had been told she could have no more children. Poetic text and gouache full-page illustrations in soft colors. Sullivan, a resident of Charleston, WV, tells on her web site that the story was inspired by a workshop with George Ella Lyon and childhood memories of buying popsicles while visiting her grandparents in Tappahannock, Virginia.

Swain, Gwenyth. I Wonder as I Wander. Illus. Ronald Himler. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2003. See Appalachian Christmas Picture Books for summary. Jennifer Smith's article "The Music of Appalachian Children's Literature" observes, "The realistic watercolor and pen illustrations capture the hardships of Appalachia during the Great Depression." [Smith in Children and Libraries 5 (Winter 2007): p. 36.]


Vaughn, Margaret Britton, and Carole B. Knuth. The Birthday Dolly. Illus. Lucille Lundquist. Bell Buckle, TN: Bell Buckle Press, 2000. "A doll on the shelf of the company store in the coal mining community of Beckley, West Virginia, yearns to go home with one of the families." Dolly lives in different homes, including an African American "home of a different color" in the 1950s.

Vorndan, Judith Clay. Mr. Bear Lives There. Illus. Arthur Skupniewicz. Painesville Publishing, 2005. A story illustrated with line drawings about a little girl in 1952 who stops being afraid of Mr. Bear when she learns he is Mr. Baer the beekeeper. The author grew up in Seth, WV.

Wach, Delia Bowman. The Cat Has Class! Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books, 2008. 32 pp. "Presents the story of Frankie, a cat that travels far and wide before finding a home with the students and teachers of Franklin Elementary Center [Parkersburg, WV]. Includes an introduction to the workshop that led to the book's creation, a history of the cat on which the story is based, and instructions for drawing a cat" (Worldcat).

Wach, Martin & Delia, Jason S. Lynch, and Children of Appalachia. Teddy Bear Helps on the Farm. Headline Books, 2007. 64 pp. "Teddy Bear Helps on the Farm is a unique collection of short stories and activities written by the children of Appalachia to inspire others." By children from Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia schools and workshop attendees at the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair in Ripley, WV.

Fantasy and Concept Books that Contain Realism

Note: Folktales are listed in a separate Folktale Picture Book Bibliography.

Busse, Sarah Martin and Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Banjo Granny. Illus. Barry Root. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Granny gets magical help traveling across different kinds of landscape with her banjo to visit her grandson, who is "wiggly, jiggly, and all-around giggly." Although Martin and her family and the story's settings are not specifically Appalachian, the story focuses on love of bluegrass music as well as family devotion. Busse, a poet (and Martin's daughter), wrote the song "Banjo Granny." The first stanza and music are in the book. Other stanzas are in Martin's web site. Reviews and study guides are also on the web site.

Caudill, Rebecca. The Best-Loved Doll. Illus. Elliott Gilbert. 1962. New York: Henry Holt, 1990. Betsy has to decide which of her four dolls to take to a party, where the mother of her friend decides to give an extra prize for the best-loved doll, because it's obvious that Betsy loves her well-worn doll Jennifer. There is some fantasy in this "read-aloud story for girls," when the four different kinds of dolls in Betsy's bedroom talk. Caudill is a native of Harlan County, KY. Gilbert's illustrations give the setting an urban, early twentieth-century look. Several traditional counting-out rhymes are included when Betsy is trying to choose among her dolls.

Cheek, Pauline Binkley. Appalachian Scrapbook: An A-B-C of Growing Up in the Mountains. Johnson City, Tenn: Overmountain Press, 1988. 161 pp. Review by Llewellyn McKernan. Appalachian Journal, vol. 15 (Summer 1988). 2nd ed. 1995. "As the child in the book prepares an alphabet scrapbook of things Appalachian, the reader is guided in preparing a scrapbook of his/her own" (Worldcat).

Chittum, Ida. A Nutty Business. Illus. Stephen Gammell. New York: Putnam, 1973. This is Gammell's first picture book, about a humorous conflict between humans and squirrels over nuts. "When Farmer Flint gathers nuts to sell in order to buy calico for his wife and daughter, the squirrels declare war." The book is reviewed by Sandra Fenichel Asher in "Poems, Prayers, Pets, and a Princess." Children's Literature, vol. 3 (1974): pp. 202-206 (available online through library services such as Project Muse).

Crane, Carol. P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet. Discover America State by State Alphabet Series. Illus. Michael Braught. Chelsea, MI Sleeping Bear Press, 2002. Several paragraphs of background accompany a short poetic text and illustrations of the feature for each letter of the alphabet. C tells the legend of the Cherokee rose (the official state flower) and Trail of Tears. D is for Dalton, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where a young woman in 1895 started the popularity of a hand-tufted method of creating bedspreads; "Bedspread Alley" later shifted to become a capital of carpet manufacture. E is for the Etowah Indian Mounds northwest of Atlanta. K is for kudzu, called the invasive "vine that ate the South." M is for Mountains, with details on the state's highest, Brasstown Bald Mountain; waterfalls such as Amicalola Falls (Cherokee for "tumbling waters"); and the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Y is for the rare Confederate Yellow Daisy that grows at Stone Mountain. Although Eatonton is not in the Appalachian Mountains, it is the home of Joel Chandler Harris, who collected African American folktales (this book says he wrote them) and published the Uncle Remus stories in the 1880s (see "Brer Rabbit" page). It is curious that this book says (under Z for "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah") that the Disney film Song of the South is a "wonderful movie" adaptation of Harris' tales; although the film still has lots of fans, Disney has forbidden sales of the film for decades because of charges of racism, mainly in the live action frame story.

Crane, Carol. T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet. Discover America State by State Alphabet Series. Illus. Gary Palmer. Chelsea, MI Sleeping Bear Press, 2003. Several paragraphs of background accompany a short poetic text and illustrations of the feature for each letter of the alphabet. Items related to western NC include the Appalachian Mountains, the Biltmore mansion, Carl Sandburg's Rutabaga stories, and the history of NASCAR ("Z is for zoom!").

Cullen, Lynn. Little Scraggly Hair: A Dog on Noah's Ark. Illus. Jacqueline Rogers. New York: Holiday House, 2003. "The legend of how the dog got a wet nose first appears in print as 'The 'Ole in the Ark,' by Marriott Edgar, a Scottish writer and stage performer. . . .I retold the story from the dog's point of view, emphasizing the development of the dog's long-standing friendship with humankind. . . .I chose the uniquely American speech of southern Appalachian as recorded in the 1950s by eminent folklorist Richard Chase in his book American Folk Tales and Songs. By using the dialect in Little Scraggly Hair, I hoped to preserve a voice that is a valuable part of our national heritage" (Author's Notes).

De Lint, Charles. A Circle of Cats. Illus. Charles Vess. Viking Juvenile, 2003. 44 pp. Although this fantasy story (expanded later into the 2013 novel The Cats of Tanglewood Forest) is associated with the imaginary modern world that de Lint depicts in other books, Newford, the setting of these stories, and especially the illustrations, are deeply influenced by the mountain landscape and culture that surround Vess in his Abingdon, Virginia home. "Lillian is an orphan who lives with her aunt on a homestead miles from anyone, surrounded by uncharted forest. She wanders the woods, chasing squirrels and rabbits and climbing trees. Free-spirited and independent Lillian is a kindred spirit to the many wild cats who gather around the ancient beech tree. One day, while she is under the beech, Lillian is bitten by a poisonous snake. The cats refuse to let her die, and use their magic to turn her into one of their own. How she becomes a girl again is a lyrical, original folktale."

Edwards, Pamela Duncan. O is for Old Dominion: A Virginia Alphabet. Discover America State by State Alphabet Series. Illus. Troy Howell. Chelsea, MI Sleeping Bear Press, 2005. Several paragraphs of background accompany a short poetic text and illustrations of the feature for each letter of the alphabet. Some of the items included are Arlington National Cemetery, Monticello, and Booker T. Washington.

Eversole, Robyn Harbert. The Magic House. Illus. Peter Palagonia. New York: Orchard Books, 1992. "April, who sees her house in an imaginative way that can turn the stairs into a waterfall and the living room into a desert, tries to share her vision with her older sister Meredith as Meredith practices her ballet steps."

Graham, Cleda B. The Mountaineer and the Hickenlooper. Illus. David Riddle. United States, 2000. 22 pp. "While the mountaineer sleeps, the tiny elflike Hickenlooper emerges from his hole to mend broken items in the cabin at the top of a mountain."

Graves, Jonathan. Isabella Propeller and the Magic Beanie. Illus. Gail E. Haley. Blowing Rock, NC: Parkway Publishers, 2011. "After a strange encounter with a mysterious mountain woman, and with the help of a magic beanie, Isabella’s dream comes true! Set in the charming, real-life, mountain village of Blowing Rock, and inspired by the area’s unusual wind patterns and a local legend, Isabella Propeller is certain to capture young readers’ imaginations. Accompanied by her dog, Mullaby, and her flying companion, Red Tail, Isabella embarks on a flying adventure and enters an aerial world that has intrigued children and adults for generations" (from book's web site). Includes a map of the fictional version of Blowing Rock, which you can see on the web site with other features.

Hall, Francie. Appalachian ABCs. Illus. Kent Oehm. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1998. Each letter represents a plant and some other feature of natural history or Appalachian culture.

Hall, Francie. Appalachian Christmas ABCs. Illus. Kent Oehm. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 2008. "Laced throughout the litany of letters in this celebratory alphabet book is the meaning of Christmas with an Appalachian twist..." (book jacket).

Heermance, Sloan. Venture to the Smokies: A Teddy Bear Explores Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Eugene, OR: Ventures Adventures, 2007. 111 pp. "Readers can explore the meadows, mountains, and forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Venture the traveling teddy bear as a guide, and complete puzzles, games, and other activities" (WorldCat).

Horstman, Lisa. The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball. Gatlinburg, TN: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1997. For details, see AppLit bibliography Nature and the Environment in Appalachian Literature.

Kerns, Thelma. A Ducky Wedding. Illus. Bryant Owens. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1991. See picture and short description at Overmountain web site.

Kerns, Thelma. Flea Market Fleas From A to Z. Illus. Bryant Owens. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1998. See picture at Overmountain web site.

Kincaid, Tracy. The Adventures of Casey the Lost Suitcase. Terra Alta, WV: Headline Books, 2007. 32 pp. Casey's European adventures begin in WV.

Lyon, George EllaA B Cedar: An Alphabet of Trees. Illus. Tom Parker. New York: Orchard, 1996. Tree names from A to Z are illustrated with silhouettes of the full tree and colored india ink drawings of hands with leaves, berries, and nuts.

Lyon, George EllaCounting on the Woods. Photo. Ann Olson. DK Ink, 1998. Poetic lines of text and photographs combine counting with appreciation for natural objects observed by a child in the eastern Kentucky woods.

McMillan, Jenna. East Tennessee from A to Z. Jacksonville, FL: Books by Kids, 2013. Illustrated by patients from East Tennessee Hospital. Each page contains a borderless painting and texts in verse for multiple items starting with that letter of the alphabet. For example, "Davy Crockett is a great folk hero who lived here / Famous for his outdoor skills, he's King of the Wild Frontier!" Includes a wide range of geographic and cultural landmarks, especially in Knoxville; historical figures; children's interests; and items related to the hospital such as x-ray. In the back are a quiz about the region, background on the 12-year-old author and illustrations, and a letter from a child patient who inspired his father's insurance company to sponsor the book. The A to Z series publishes educational books to benefit nonprofit organizations, written and illustrated in part by children. See also Purple Lady, below.

Pack, Linda Hager. A is for Appalachia! The Alphabet Book of Appalachian Heritage. Illus. Pat Banks. Prospect, KY:  Harmony House, 2002. Rpt. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009. The author (a teacher from Hamlin, WV) describes Appalachian traditions in the past tense: "The Appalachian about which I write is of a distant time and place." The book reprints two tales by Leonard Roberts: "The Devil's Big Toe" on the page "G is for ghost stories" (p. 16), and "Jack and the Bean Stalk" on the page "J is for the clever boy in the Jack Tales" (pp. 20-22). Pack stresses that "Jack was a country boy just like the children who loved hearing about him." The tales are from Sang Branch Settlers and Old Greasybeard (see Roberts in Appalachian Folktale Collections). Other pages describe traditional folkways, language, and customs. Review excerpts at University Press of Kentucky web site.

Pack, Linda Hager. Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z. Illus. Pat Banks. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2013. In alphabet format with details on traditional toys and games from the mid to late 1800s. Includes instructions for making an apple doll, an Iroquois legend of the corn husk doll, rules for hoop and stick, and examples of jump rope rhymes. O is a poem about being outside. Under "eerie stories" is a reprint of a ghost story, "Never Mind Them Watermelons," by S. E. Schlosser. Includes a glossary, Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, list of Places to Visit (mostly museums), a list of Recommended Appalachian Books for Children, and bibliography.

Paul, Ann Whitford. Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet. Illus. Jeanette Winter. New York: HarperCollins, 1991."Introduces the letters of the alphabet with names of early American patchwork quilt patterns and explains the origins of the designs by describing the activity or occupation they derive from."

The Purple Lady and Friends. Chattanooga from A to Z. Jacksonville, FL: Books By Kids, 2010. Sonia Young, also known as "The Purple Lady," worked with local artists Lynne Brock and Frances McDonald and many children from the Chattanooga area to produce this book, "filled with historical facts and fun trivia about the city they call home. Young readers will enjoy the rhyming and colorful illustrations while older students will undoubtedly learn a thing or two about their hometown. The illustrations were created by current and former patients of T. C. Thompson Children’s Hospital and other children from Chattanooga." See McMillan, above, for description of a similar book. The A to Z series publishes educational books to benefit nonprofit organizations, written and illustrated in part by children.Hello, Virginia cover

Ransom, Candice. Hello, Virginia! Illus. David Walker. New York: Sterling, 2010. An appealing board book with acrylic paintings in soft colors, structured around opposites. A red-haired girl says hello to a variety of Virginia landmarks and objects, such as "bright house" (Mount Vernon), "dark cave" (Luray Caverns); "round apple," "square cabin" (Booker T. Washington's birthplace in Franklin County); "small fawn," "large rock" (Natural Bridge in Rockland County). In the final scene, camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the girl says "Good night, Virginia."

Rice, Clay. Mama, Let's Make a Moon. Huntsville, Utah: Familius, 2013. A picture book with folklore and fantasy elements, about a family creating a silver moon and hanging it in the sky. Mama, Let's Make a Moon coverWith cut-paper silhouette illustrations. "In creating the highly detailed landscape silhouettes..., Clay spent many weeks doing field study in the Appalachian mountains. In Mama, Clay takes us on a wonderfully lighthearted mountain adventure that is as playful as a bear cub, but with a message that's as deep as a highland lake. As the story moves, it weaves through the mountains towards core values like family, love, relationships, and making something from nothing."

Riehle, Mary Ann McCabe. B is for Bluegrass: A Kentucky Alphabet. Illus. Wes Burgiss. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2002. Fun rhymes, along with factual information about the state, introduce both younger and older readers to the state of Kentucky. Realistic illustrations   

Riehle, Mary Ann McCabe. M is for Mountain State: A West Virginia Alphabet. Discover America State by State Alphabet Series. Illus. Laura J. Bryant. Chelsea, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2004. Playful rhymes accompany each letter of the alphabet; for the older reader, factual information about the state have also been included in side panels for each letter. West Virginia illustrator Bryant takes advantage of her many travels throughout the state to provide authentic, colorful illustrations. The Allegheny Mountains and black bear are two of the items included.

Shoulders, Michael. V is for Volunteer: A Tennessee Alphabet. Discover America State by State Alphabet Series. Illus. Bruce Langston. Chelsea, MI Sleeping Bear Press, 2001. Several paragraphs of background accompany a short poetic text and illustrations of the feature for each letter of the alphabet. In addition to plants and animals, pages pertaining to Appalachia include Appalachian Mountains, Cloggers, Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, Quilts, Sequoyah, Trail of Tears, Unikite (a unique gem in the Unaka Mountains), Volunteers (including Davy Crockett at the Alamo). Review questions at the end of the book.

Young, Sonia. See Purple Lady, above.

This Page Created: 11/16/2001   |   Links Checked:  9/17/06   |    Site Index   |   Top of Page   |   Last Update: 7/9/16

Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Fiction
Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Folklore
Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Picture Books

Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Poetry

Folktale Picture Book Bibliography
Picture Books with Cherokee Themes