cover image American Tall Tales

American Tall Tales

Mary Pope Osborne. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $19.95 (115pp) ISBN 978-0-679-80089-7

American folk heroes of the 19th century spring to life in these splendidly retold sagas. Osborne's reputation as a gifted raconteur ( Favorite Greek Myths ; Beauty and the Beast ) is reaffirmed in this compendium, which retells the legends of familiar figures (Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill), as well as lesser known personalities, such as Crockett's fictional wife Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, a composite character shaped by tales of various real-life women. Also chronicled are heroes hailing from places other than the backwoods, including Stormalong, a giant sailor who as a baby was washed onto a Cape Cod beach by a tidal wave, and Mose, a New York City fireman immortalized in an 1848 Broadway play. As tantalizing as Osborne's storytelling are McCurdy's ( The Owl-Scatterer ) elaborate, full-color wood engravings, which in their robust stylization dramatically render the grandeur of these engrossing yarns. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)