A Ring of Tricksters: Animal Tales from America, the West Indies, and Africa

A Ring of Tricksters: Animal Tales from America, the West Indies, and Africa

by Virginia Hamilton, Barry Moser

Twelve trickster tales that show the migration of African culture to America via the West Indies.  See more details below


Twelve trickster tales that show the migration of African culture to America via the West Indies.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
This is the third collaboration by this author and illustrator and they continue to charm readers with outstanding folktales and matching illustrations. There are similarities here to their previous works, When Birds Could Talk & Bats Could Sing and In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World. This collection contains stories that are drawn from distinct geographical regions, but they share common roots. The American Trickster tales feature Buh Rabby, sometimes called Brer Rabbit, and other smaller creatures who use their wits to best those larger and more powerful. These tales have their roots in the African culture of the slaves in the Southern US. Another set of tales from the West Indies feature Anansi, the spider, which is also rooted in African culture. What makes the circle complete are the African trickster tales, which may have returned to the continent via freed slaves. They are entertaining and the dialect is not overwhelming. The artwork by Moser is filled with humor. The way his animal characters displays the full range of human emotions is testament to his prodigious talent. This is a book to be savored and begs to be read aloud. The stories are appropriate for younger children to listen to, while older kids can read them on their own. Notes provide background and information about the stories.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K Up--Hamilton offers readers and storytellers 11 animal trickster tales from the African diaspora. Most are quite familiar. "Bruh Wolf and Bruh Rabbit Join Together" is a variant of the popular tale about who gets the top or the bottom of the harvested crops. "The Cat and the Rat" takes a new twist when Bruh Wolf is brought in to help them share their find. "Cunnie Anansi Does Some Good" is a different take on name guessing. "Cunnie Rabbit and Spider Make a Match" is a tale about strength that also explains why animals have different colors or spots or stripes. It is the least successful offering as it lacks the humor and familiar touches found in "The Extraordinary Tug-of-War." As in When Birds Could Talk & Bats Could Sing (Scholastic, 1996) and In the Beginning (Harcourt, 1988), Moser's humorous illustrations of the principal characters capture and complement the wily, dazed, and perplexed demeanor of the animals as described by Hamilton. A section of notes helps readers understand the colloquialisms and contractions in the retellings and gives an explanation about the tricksters and the specific geographical location of the diaspora they represent. The format, size, and attractive illustrations make this title a good choice for group sharing.--Marie Wright, University Library, Indianapolis, IN
New York Times Book Review
This is a handsome, well-annotated anthology, a pleasure to read aloud. -- New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.34(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.60(d)
540L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

BARRY MOSER is the prize-winning illustrator of many beautiful books for children and adults, including Harcourt's Telling Time with Big Mama Cat and Sit, Truman!, both co-illustrated by his daughter Cara Moser and written by Dan Harper. He has won the American Book Award and earned accolades from the American Library Association and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Mr. Moser lives in western Massachusetts. TONY JOHNSTON's numerous books for children include It's About Dogs, illustrated by Ted Rand, Very Scary, illustrated by Douglas Florian, and The Day of the Dead, illustrated by Jeanette Winter. She lives with her family in California.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
March 12, 1936
Date of Death:
February 19, 2002
Place of Birth:
Yellow Springs, Ohio
Place of Death:
Yellow Springs, Ohio
Attended Antioch College, Ohio State University, and the New School for Social Research

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