How-and-Why Stories

How-and-Why stories are meant to explain why something is the way it is. Many of these stories have been handed down orally for generations, some are more recent creations.

Mollel, Tololwa M.

Explains why bats only come out of their caves at night.
Cummings, Pat
J398.20966 CUMMI

Ananse the spider thinks he will marry the daughter of the village chief, but instead he is outsmarted by Lizard.
Sage, James

Coyote is charged with the delicate task of creating the first human being in this Native American creation myth.
Goble, Paul
J398.208997 GOBLE

Retells the Cheyenne legend in which a girl and her seven chosen brothers become the Big Dipper.
Hamilton, Martha
J398.2 HAMIL

A collection of twenty-five traditional stories explaining why an animal or plant or natural object looks or acts the way it does. Following each story are storytelling tips and short modern, scientific explanations for the subject of the story.
Reneaux, J. J.
J398.2 RENEA

A collection of folktales from people in the Deep South including Cajun, Creole, Native Americans, African Americans, those of English as well as Scotch-Irish-German traditions, and others living in Appalachia.
Hausman, Gerald

Seven stories describe how such animals as the possum, coyote, and chipmunk became the animals we know today with the help of Mother Earth.
Rosen, Michael
J398.2096 ROSEN

During a terrible drought in which there is nothing to eat, Man prepares a magic herb that results in Giraffe's long neck so he can reach the high leaves on the trees and a grumpy Rhino, who arrives too late for the magic.
Ober, Hal

Retells a Mexican legend in which the sky god and the wind god bring music from Sun's house to the Earth.
Duvall, Deborah
J398.2452 DUVAL

When Rabbit becomes jealous of Otter's beautiful coat, which causes his own beautiful tail to be ignored, he plots to steal the coat and become popular again.
Troughton, Joanna

Retells the traditional Native American legend of how Rabbit managed to steal fire from the Sky People and bring it to Earth.
Bernhard, Emery

When the demons who live under the earth steal the sun leaving the tundra in darkness, the animals send Bear, Wolf, and finally Snowshoe Hare to bring it back.
Troughton, Joanna
J398.24 TROUG

Once only Mouse knew, and kept to himself, the stories of how the world came to be, until angry Lightning broke down Mouse's door and the stories escaped into the world.
Rosen, Michael
J398.2 ROSEN

A collection of tales from around the world explaining how various animals got their colors.
Troughton, Joanna
J398.24 TROUG

A tale told by the Arawak people of Guyana that tells how birds became brightly colored.
Kipling, Rudyard

Relates how the camel received his permanent hump from the Djinn of All Deserts.
Alexander, Lloyd

Warned not to get into his usual mischief, Mother Holly's cat tries to tidy up all the mess he has made while she is away.
Bruchac, Joseph
J398.24 BRUCH

When Bear and Brown Squirrel have a disagreement about whether Bear can stop the sun from rising, Brown Squirrel ends up with claw marks on his back and becomes Chipmunk, the striped one.
Robbins, Ruth

When so much rain falls on Mt. Shasta that the Indians cannot gather seeds, they ask Coyote for a sign the rain will stop.
Knutson, Barbara.

A folk explanation for the guinea fowl's protective coloration that enables it to hide from its natural predator, the lion.
Achebe, Chinua

Recounts how the leopard got his claws and teeth and why he rules the forest with terror.
Tulien, Sean

This graphic adaptation from Kipling's Just So Stories relates how the leopard got his spotted coat in order to hunt the animals in the dappled shadows of the forest.
Kipling, Rudyard

Relates how the greyish-yellowish-brownish leopard came by his spots. Read by Danny Glover.
Dixon, Ann

Raven gives the sun, the moon, and the stars to the people of the world by tricking the great chief who is hoarding them in three boxes.
Kipling, Rudyard

Relates how the rhinoceros' lack of manners resulted in his baggy skin and bad temper.
Kipling, Rudyard

Read by Jack Nicholson; Just so -- How the rhinoceros got his skin -- Anantarivo -- Humph! -- How the camel got his hump -- Camel dance -- And told the man -- When the world was new -- More than oriental splendor -- Amygdala -- Djinn
Poole, Amy Lowry
J398.24 POOL

In the early days of the world, when the sun refuses to come out for fear of a skillful archer's arrows, a small rooster saves the day by coaxing the sun out with his crowing.
Crespo, George

The gourd containing the bow and arrow of the great departed hunter Yayael produces a torrent of water that becomes the world's ocean.
Cleveland, Rob

Hoping to acquire wisdom from man, Tiger ends up instead with stripes on his golden coat.
Ross, Gayle

Turtle's shell is cracked when the wolves plot to stop his boastful ways.
Beckhorn, Susan Williams

Six tales reveal how the raccoon, the porcupine, the fox, the flying squirrel, the skunk, and the mountain lion came to have their unique characteristics.
McDermott, Gerald
J398.2 MCDER

All the birds enjoy the song-like flute music of Jabuti, the tortoise, except Vulture who, jealous because he cannot sing, tricks Jabuti into riding his back toward a festival planned by the King of Heaven.
Kipling, Rudyard

Includes How the Whale Got His Throat -- How the Leopard Got His Spots -- The Elephant's Child -- and more!
Kipling, Rudyard

Unabridged recording, performed by Boris Karloff. How the whale got his throat (6:44) -- How the camel got his hump (6:14) -- How the rhinoceros got his skin (5:59) -- The elephant's child (1(7:03) -- The sing-song of old man kangaroo (6:30) -- The beginning of the armadillos (15:45) -- How the leopard got his spots (13:05)
Shepard, Aaron
J398.209669 SHEPA

A boastful strong man learns a lesson harder than his muscles when he encounters one of Nigeria's superheroes in this Hausa tale which explains the origin of thunder.
Ehlert, Lois
S J398.2 EHLER

An adaptation of the Peruvian folktale in which Fox and Mole try to climb to the moon on a rope woven of grass. Bilingual English-Spanish.
Bruchac, Joseph

Twenty-four Native American tales, coming from Mohawk, Hopi, Yaqui, Haida and other cultures, that demonstrate the power of animals in Native American traditions.
Shute, Linda

Presents an Afro-Cuban folk tale which explains why rabbits have long ears.

Collection includes: How the turtle got her shell -- How Sun, Moon, and Wind went out to dinner -- Why spider lives in ceilings -- Why the sea is salt -- Why the snake has no legs -- Kangaroo tales -- How bear lost his tail -- How the deer lost his tail -- How spider taught women to weave --Why the parrot repeats man's words.
Wolkstein, Diane
J398.2 WOLKS

After hearing Ocean's stories, Sun invites Ocean to the house he shares with his wife, Moon, but his visitor proves to be more than his house can hold.
Kipling, Rudyard

Rudyard Kipling's delightful story of how the elephant got his trunk is given a stunning new look through Geoffrey Patterson's elegant, whimsical illustrations. The text has also been simplified for a younger audience, without losing any of Kipling's much-loved turns of phrase.
Lunge-Larsen, Lise

In this retelling of an Ojibwe tale, a girl's act of bravery to save her family leads to the appearance in the world of the delicate and tender flower called the lady's slipper.
Duvall, Deborah
J398.2452 DUVAL

Cherokee tale that explains why opossums have hairless tails.
Mollel, Tololwa M.

This traditional story from Africa explains the reason Kileken, the morning star, appears in the sky both morning and night.
Bryan, Ashley
J398.2089975 BRUCH

In this retelling of a West African tale, Ma Sheep Thunder and her impetuous son Ram Lightning are forced to leave their home on Earth because of the trouble Ram causes.
Bruchac, Joseph
J398.2089975 BRUCH

When cornmeal is stolen from an elderly couple, the others in a Cherokee village find a way to drive off the thief, creating the Milky Way in the process.
Sherman, Pat
J398.208997 SHERM

Tells the story of how the tiny pewee bird saved Maize and kept the people from starving. Based on an Iroquois legend, but parallels the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter.
Johnston, Tony

Rabbit outwits Coyote in this Zapotec tale which explains why coyotes howl at the moon.
Monroe, Jean Guard

A collection of legends about the stars from various North American Indian cultures, including explanations of the Milky Way and constellations such as the Big Dipper.
Vogel, Carole Garbuny
J398.208997 VOGEL

Juxtaposes ancient native tales that explained weather phenomena such as thunder, tornadoes, sunlight, rainbows, clouds, and others with the scientific fact behind these phenomena.
Thomas, Joyce Carol
J398.2 THOMA

Presents a volume of pourquoi tales collected by Zora Neale Hurston from her field research in the Gulf states in the 1920s.
Larson, Bonnie
S J398.208997 LARSO

A traditional Huichol folktale of the magical time when animals had human characteristics and were first learning from the Spirits of Nature and each other to find their true homes and unique wisdom. Bilingual, English-Spanish.
Greaves, Nick
J398.24 GREAV

Includes thirty-six animal folktales from all parts of Africa, with factual information about each animal following the stories.
Mayo, Margaret.

The Girl Who Did Some baking -- Catch It and Run! -- Maui and His Thousand Tricks -- Tortoise's Big Idea -- Raven and Pea-pod Man.
Garland, Sherry

A Vietnamese folktale explaining the phenomenon of ducks' sleeping on one leg.
Mama, Raouf

A collection of nineteen folk stories from the Fon people of Benin, about orphans and twins with magical associations, spirits, animals, royalty, and farmers.
Lester, Julius

When people and animals try to climb ladders to Heaven to escape problems with snakes, God, His secretary Bruce, and the angel Shaniqua decide that Heaven needs to be much further away.
Doucet, Sharon Arms

Three tales of Compere Lapin who practices his tricks among the Creoles and the Cajuns of the Louisiana bayou.
Paye, Won-Ldy
J398.20966 PAYE

Contents: Why Leopard has Spots -- Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile -- The Talking Vegetables -- The Hunger Season -- Why Spider Has a Big Butt -- Spider Flies to the Feast.
Aardema, Verna
J398.2 AARDE

A retelling of a traditional West African tale that reveals how the mosquito developed its annoying habit.
Han, Carolyn.

Twenty traditional tales from such ethnic groups in China as Mongol, Tibetan, Yao, Han, and Miao.
Knutson, Barbara.
J398.24 KNUTS

An African legend in which the creator is concerned with Crab's pride and makes him "headless" to instill humility.
Connolly, James E., editor

Thirteen tales collected from eight Indian tribes of eastern and western North America, featuring animals and nature lore.
Gerson, Mary-Joan.

The sky was once so close to the Earth that people cut parts of it to eat, but their waste and greed caused the sky to move far away.
Kimmel, Eric A.
J398.2 KIMME

Tells the story of why snakes have no legs, have a forked tongue and why they shed their skin.
Daly, Niki

The sun and moon must leave their earthly home after Sun invites the Sea to visit.
Bowden, Joan Chase

In this folktale explaining why the sea has tides, an old woman threatens to pull the rock from the hole in the ocean floor if Sky Spirit does not honor his promise to give her shelter.