“The Bear-Child” in Look Back and See: Twenty lively tales for
gentle tellers retold by Margaret MacDonald. Wilson, 1991.
An old man makes a bear cub
from an ice bear’s blood. He and his wife adopt the cub, but lose him
they insist that he hunt an ice bear. Inuit.
“The Cow-Tail Switch” in The Cow-Tail Switch and Other
West African Stories by Harold Courlander and George Herzog. Holt, 1949.
A hunter fails to return
from the hunt. Later, a son is born and asks where his father is. The older
find his bones, reconstruct him, and bring him to life. The father gives the
cow-tail switch to the youngest, who asked for him, because a man is not truly
dead as long as he is remembered.
Crow and Hawk: A traditional Pueblo Indian story retold by Michael
Rosen; illustrated by John Clementson. Harcourt Brace, 1995.
Hawk rescues a crow’s abandoned eggs. When the baby birds fledge, Crow
returns to claim her children but finds that they want to stay with the
only mother they’ve ever known.
The Dancing Fox: Arctic folktales, edited by John Bierhorst;
illustrated by Mary K. Okheena. Morrow, c1997.
A description of Inuit culture accompanies a collection of eighteen
Inuit folktales which includes four tales about children raised by
other than their birth parents, or animals raised as children: “A Giant and
her Little Son” ,“The Lost Boys”, “The Orphan Who Became Strong”, “Little Bear”
(similar to “The Polar Bear Son”).
“The King’s True Children” in The Beautiful Blue Jay and
Other Tales of India collected and edited by John W.
Spellman. Little, Brown, 1967. (out of print)
Jealous older wives send the youngest queen’s two babies down the river,
where they are rescued and raised by a fisherman and his wife. When grown,
the brother follows a quest to a sacred spring, but looks back and is taken by
demons. His sister rescues him and her fame brings a reunion with their birth
parents and a reward for the faithful fisherman.
“The Lion’s Whisker” in The Lion’s Whisker, Tales of High Africa by Brent
Ashabranner and Russell Davis. Little Brown, o.p.
A woman tames a lion in
order to win the love of her little stepson. An antidote to all those
bad-stepmother stories and a hint (“...you’re not my real mother...”) about
“The Little Daughter of the Snow” in Old Peter’s Russian Tales by Arthur
Ransome. Viking, 1975.
For once it is a daughter, not a son, who is longed
The girl the old couple make out of snow is active and independent. They lose
her when they do not value her enough.
“Little Wildrose” in The Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, Dover
reprint of 1903 edition.
The old couple want a baby, he goes out in
search of one but forgets the wise woman’s interdiction and the
promised baby is stolen and raised by eagles.
“Ñucu the Worm” in Jade and Iron: Latin American tales from two
cultures; translated by Hugh Hazelton; edited by Patricia Aldana;
illustrated by Luis Garay. Douglas & McIntyre, c1996.
A woman takes in a shiny worm from the yucca plants and treats it “as
if it were her own child.” He grows quickly and soon is catching fish for
her, but after a time he grows so big he must move to the sky. He keeps
the sky from falling, and we see him as the Milky Way.
“Odilia and Aldaric” in The Giant at the Ford And Other
Legends of the Saints by Ursula Synge. Atheneum, 1980, o.p.
A warrior rejects his blind daughter
and she is raised in a convent. At baptism she regains her sight. Then begins
contest of wills between equally stubborn father and daughter. From Alsace.
Also available on Milbre Burch’s cassette, Saints and Other Sinners (Kind
Crone). Another version of the legend appears in Butler’s Lives of the Saints.
“Once There Was and Once There Was Not” in Tales the
People Tell in Russia retold by Lee Wyndham. Julian Messner, 1970. o.p.
A conceited storyteller
goes to challenge another storyteller to a contest, finds only the other teller’s
small daughter and is bested by her.
“One, My Darling, Come to Mama” in The Magic Orange Tree and other
Folktales collected by Diane Wolkstein, c.1978.
mother despises her and loves her sisters. When a devil steals the three
beloved daughters, the mother goes mad and runs away. Philamandré finds
work and marries a king’s son. Many years later her mother, old and mad,
comes to the palace and Philamandré takes her in.
“The Pincoya’s Child” in Out of the Everywhere: Tales for a New World by
Jan Andrews. Groundwood/Publishers Group West, 2001.
An old woman finds a mermaid’s child and, at the mermaid’s request,
cares for the child until she is strong enough to face the dangers of
the sea. Then the old woman must be strong enough to let her go.
The Polar Bear Son: an Inuit tale, retold and illustrated by Lydia
Dabcovich. Clarion Books, c1997.
An old woman adopts and raises a polar bear cub which grows up and
provides for her even after she has had to send it away to save it from
the jealous men of the village.
“The Stolen Bairn and the Sìdh” in Womenfolk and Fairy Tales edited
Rosemary Minard. Houghton Mifflin, 1975.
A mother makes two matchless
things to trade with the fairies to get her stolen baby back. Irish.
“Gulnara” in A Treasury of Princesses by Shirley Climo. Harper Collins,
In this variant of “The King’s True Children” it is jealous sisters,
not wives, who steal the children.
More stories related to adoption issues can be found on an audiotape,
Warming the Stone Child: Myths and Stories about Abandonment and the
Unmothered Child by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, 1990, from Sounds True
Recordings, 735 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302.
This list of stories for adults and school-age children compiled by
Schimmel, storyteller. If you have suggestions for this list, please
Sisters’ Choice, 704 Gilman St., Berkeley, CA 94010, or
This list may be reproduced
in its entirety only, including introduction and credits, by
any library, school or other non-profit organization, without
permission. (Remember to use recycled paper.)