Anansi and his wife outsmart the Sky God and win back the beloved folktales of their people.
Children's Literature - Tamara HundleyAnansi, a cunning little spider, is upset that the tales told by storytellers for generations now belong to the Sky God. He is determined to get the stories back. Anansi shares his dilemma with his wife, Aso, who works with him to regain possession of the tales. Anansi makes a deal with the Sky God. In order to buy back the folktales, he must bring the Sky God a live python, a real fairy, and forty-seven stinging hornets. Although it sounds impossible, Anansi and Aso join forces to meet the Sky God's requirements. They regain possession of the tales and celebrate by gathering the village people inside a circle of fires for storytelling. They also share with the villagers their exploits. The bright, colorful illustrations reflect the story's African roots. 1997 (orig.
School Library JournalPreS-Gr 3Anansi the Spider is determined to buy back the stories taken from the people and kept by the Sky God. With the assistance of his clever wife, Aso, he takes the Sky God the live python, the real fairy, and the 47 stinging hornets required to regain the stories. Retold from Aardema's The Sky God Stories (Coward, 1960; o.p.), the tale rollicks along at a rhythmic merry pace, full of descriptive ideophones (sounds that express movement or emotion). The lively narrative is perfect for reading aloud, and the inclusion of Aso is a particularly nice touch. Desimini's textured collages portray the spider couple as cheeky and cherubic in their boldly patterned clothing. The extravagant, vibrant illustrations fill the pages and complement the text beautifully. The depictions of the defiant Anansi confronting the Sky God, a gigantic, disembodied head, are particularly effective. Gail Haley's A Story, A Story (Atheneum, 1970) tells the same tale, but to compare the two would be to compare apples and oranges. Both retellings have lively, evocative language, although Aardema's version may be more suited to preschool listeners, and both have compelling illustrations that extend and illuminate the narrative. Make room on the shelf for both.Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
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