How Green was my Bedtime Story:
Adaptations of Traditional Literature in Ecological Children's Books

Tina L. Hanlon, Ferrum College
From Paper Presented at Children's Literature Association Conference,
Calgary, July 9, 1999

NOTE: Some of these books are adaptations that reflect modern attitudes toward nature and the environment but do not focus explicitly on ecological problems or issues. For more on these books and others relevant to study of the environment, including guidelines for teachers, see

Nature and the Environment in Appalachian Literature, bibliography and study guide in AppLit
Picture Books and the Environment
Background Resources on Environmental Literature for Teachers and Scholars
Science 141 and 143: Humans Within Ecosystems and Our Home/Our Habitat

Retellings of Traditional Lore

Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac. Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children. Illus. John Kahionhes Fadden and Carol Wood. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 1988.

Galdone, Paul. Over in the Meadow: An Old Nursery Counting Rhyme. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1986. N. pag.

Kellogg, Stephen. Johnny Appleseed. William Morrow, 1988.

Lindbergh, Reeve. Johnny Appleseed. Illus. Kathy Jakobsen. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990. N. pag.

Opie, Iona. Tail Feathers from Mother Goose: The Opie Rhyme Book. Boston: Little, Brown, 1988.

Schwartz, Alvin. And the Green Grass Grew All Around: Folk Poetry from Everyone. Illus. Sue Truesdel. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Adaptations of Traditional Tales and Rhymes

Brown, Ruth. Ladybug, Ladybug. New York: Dutton, 1988. N. pag.

Brown, Ruth. The World that Jack Built. New York: Dutton, 1991. N. pag.

Duffy, Carol Ann. "Nursery Rhyme." Mother Earth, Father Sky: Poems of Our Planet. Ed. Jane Yolen. Illus. Jennifer Hewitson Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mill Press, 1996.

Haley, Gail. Noah's Ark. New York: Atheneum, 1971. N. pag.

Jonas, Ann. Aardvarks, Disembark! New York: Greenwillow, 1990. Based on Noah's ark.

London, Jonathan. I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me. Illus. Peter Fiore. New York: Puffin, 1996.

Lowell, Susan. The Three Little Javelinas. Illus. Jim Harris. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland, 1992.

Lowell, Susan.. The Tortoise and the Hare. Illus. Jim Harris. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland, 1994.

Manson, Christopher. The Tree in the Wood. New York: North-South, 1993. N. pag.

Turkle, Brinton. Deep in the Forest. New York: Dutton, 1976. Wordless book based on the Goldilocks story.

Wildsmith, Brian. Professor Noah's Spaceship. New York: Oxford, 1980.

Wildsmith, Brian and Rebecca. Jack and the Meanstalk. New York: Knopf, 1994.

New Stories that Recombine and Adapt Traditional Motifs

Cherry, Lynne. The Dragon and the Unicorn. New York: Gulliver Green/Harcourt Brace, 1995. See Dragons in Picture Books

Cole, Babette. Supermoo! London: BBC Books, 1992. N. pag.

George, Jean Craighead. Who Really Killed Cock Robin? New York: Harper Trophy, 1971.

Meyers, Walter Dean. The Story of the Three Kingdoms. Illus. Ashley Bryan. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Robinson, Sandra Chisholm. The Last Bit Bear: A Fable. Illus. Ellen Ditzler Meloy. Niwot, CO: Roberts Rinehart, 1984.

Wahl, Jan. Once When the World Was Green. Illus. Fabricio Vandenbroeck. A cautionary tale with talking animals inspired by Mayan mythology.

Wood, Douglas. Old Turtle. Illus. Cheng-Khee Chee. Duluth, MN: Pfeifer-Hamilton, 1992. N. pag.

This page created 6/17/02. Last update: 06/28/02