Tag: tall tale tradition

  • In A Dark, Dark Room And Other Scary Stories

    In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

    In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories written by Alvin Schwartz was first published in 1971 for emergent readers ready for scary… but not too scary. I recently looked closely at a modern picture book called Creepy Carrots, another excellent example of a ‘scary’ story perfectly pitched at 4-6 year olds. This collection […]

  • How To Write Like Paul Jennings

    Paul Jennings books

    Paul Jennings mastered the tall tale hi-lo children’s story in the 1980s. 30 years on, writers can still learn from his techniques. Other Paul Jennings tropes need to go the way of the dodo.

  • Uncanny by Paul Jennings Hi-Lo Short Stories

    Uncanny is a hi-lo short story collection by Australian author Paul Jennings, first published 1988. The original ‘uncanny’ stories were by British writer May Sinclair (1863 – 1946). I read a collection of Sinclair’s uncanny short stories (1923) a few years ago and wasn’t really moved by them. This is because so many writers have…

  • When Everyone Else Is A Ghost

    Sergeant Maaka stands outside a ghost house in Wellington Paranormal

    You may not believe in ghosts to enjoy ghost stories. I don’t either. But once you understand how ghost stories work, you’ll understand how tools of persuasion are used in other realms. Studying the ghost story is a fun way to study the techniques of persuasion. Ghost stories have plenty of other functions, too. There…

  • The Blood Bay by Annie Proulx Short Story Analysis

    At around the same time Annie Proulx published “The Blood Bay”, an episode of Six Feet Under saw Claire in big trouble for stealing a severed foot from her family’s funeral business and taking it with her to school. That episode, like this story, was darkly funny and made use of someone’s severed foot. It…

  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko Analysis

    The Paper Bag Princess

    The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is another feminist picturebook from the 1980s in which a scruffy princess does not end up marrying the prince. In fact, it must be one of the earliest of its kind. It’s published in 1980 and remains one of Munsch’s most popular books.

  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers (2007) Analysis

    First published in 2007, The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers has a carnivalesque/tall tale plot but with the slow, reflective mood of Jeffers’ later work, for example The Heart And The Bottle. STORY STRUCTURE OF THE WAY BACK HOME WEAKNESS IN THE WAY BACK HOME “Once there was a boy.” This is a generic child and…

  • Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (2011) Analysis

    When Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he tries to knock it down with increasingly larger and more outrageous things. A perfect picture book by Oliver Jeffers. STORY STRUCTURE OF STUCK There’s a long oral tradition of stories which get cumulatively more and more ridiculous until the  most ridiculous idea ends the story. “The…

  • How To Write A Tall Story


    The ‘Tall Tale’ is a legitimate genre of story – not necessarily an insult. Maybe it sounds like one because as kids we were told to stop telling ‘tall tales’, when in fact we just thought we were ’embellishing’ real-life happenings. (If you’ve always been a writer than I expect you might identify with that!)…