Children's Literature - Paula McMillenPart of the "Mythology Rocks" series, this book was reviewed in conjunction with two other volumes, Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology Rock!, and Maya and Aztec Mythology Rocks! In spite of the obvious effort to make these books appealing to young readers with the titles, graphic novel type cover illustrations, and color edged pages, these are fairly substantive readers that all follow a uniform format. There is a Preface that introduces the geographic area and time period covered. Each chapter then also includes a topic-specific Introduction, the story itself, Questions and Answers, and an "Expert Commentary" which provides some opinions on the significance of the storyline. The questions are content based rather than fodder for discussion about ideas or concepts. The chapters are followed by a glossary, chapter source notes, reading and Internet suggestions, and an index. Altman is a prolific author of nonfiction books for juvenile audiences. Her Preface appropriately emphasizes the cultural diversity within Africa"fifty different nations...populated by some three thousand groups, speaking at least a thousand different languages" (p.7)that underlie the stories presented here. She does point out some similarities, however, that create common themes among different tribes' mythology, such as a shared geography (e.g., living in the desert), or a similar lifestyle (e.g., nomadic). Mythology generally attempts to explain events and the settings in people's lives and we find here stories about animals, the creation of the world and people, and why we die. A heavily illustrated map of Africa accompanies the Preface; while, lively black and white drawings illustrate each chapter. As with all the books in this series, providing a pronunciation guide in the glossary would have been helpful. These books are in library bindings, suitable for reference in a school library. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
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