This spring there are several new picture-book editions of myths, legends, and folk tales. Joanna Troughton, an English author/illustrator, has retold Tortoise's Dream, an African folk tale, and How Rabbit Stole the Fire, a North American Indian tale. In ``Tortoise's Dream'' the swifter, braver animals dismiss Tortoise's offer to find a secret tree laden with fruit. In the end, however, it is the slow and steady Tortoise who succeeds. In the North American tale, the crafty trickster Rabbit outwits the Sky people and steals their fire. Troughton's vibrant illustrations accompany these fascinating tales about the origins of fruit and fire. (Peter Bedrick, $10.95 each, ages 4 to 8.) The Village of Round and Square Houses, retold by Ann Grifalconi, is a true story of a small village in central Africa where the women live in round huts and the men in square ones. The tale, which Grifalconi originally heard from a young girl who grew up in the village, explains the origin of this unusual practice. Bold, dramatic illustrations echo the rhythm of African life. (Little, Brown, $14.95, ages 4 to 8.)
The tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker, originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm, has been retold and illustrated by Bernadette Watts. In this attractive oversized edition, the finely detailed illustrations are filled with dark beams, half-timbered houses, and tiled roofs. (North-South Books, distributed by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $12.95, ages 4 to 8.).
The nursery-rhyme character Solomon Grundy, who was ``born on a Monday,'' is imaginary. But in her new book, Solomon Grundy, author/illustrator Susan Hoguet, using material from newspapers, old prints, and photographs, has created an authentic background for the original nursery rhyme. Solomon's life history is dotted with important events from US history, and careful examination of Hoguet's beautiful watercolor illustrations will reward the reader with hours of pleasure. (Dutton, $11.95, ages 4 to 8.)