Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl

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Overview

Esteemed author Virginia Hamilton retells the classic trickster tale of Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby in her own distinctive, playful vernacular with paintings by acclaimed artist James Ransome.

Bruh Rabbit may indeed have met his match when he comes across a tar baby in the middle of the road. The baby's deaf, dumb and blind attitude infuriates the plucky trickster, just as Wolf planned! When Bruh Rabbit gets entangled in the tar baby's sticky embrace, has he finally been foiled...

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Overview

Esteemed author Virginia Hamilton retells the classic trickster tale of Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby in her own distinctive, playful vernacular with paintings by acclaimed artist James Ransome.

Bruh Rabbit may indeed have met his match when he comes across a tar baby in the middle of the road. The baby's deaf, dumb and blind attitude infuriates the plucky trickster, just as Wolf planned! When Bruh Rabbit gets entangled in the tar baby's sticky embrace, has he finally been foiled by his long-time enemy? Certainly not, if Wolf falls for Bruh Rabbit's clever reverse-psychology and flings the wily rabbit into the briar patch!
Spun in Virginia Hamilton's unique vernacular, this will be a delight to those familiar with Bruh Rabbit's games, and a unforgettable introduction for newcomers!

In this retelling, using Gullah speech, of a familiar story the wily Brer Rabbit outwits Brer Fox who has set out to trap him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sparkling Gullah version of a favorite Brer Rabbit story, the immediacy and quirky originality of the late Hamilton's voice make ordinary prose seem quite dull in comparison. The author balances the dialect just right, capturing the musical sounds and cadences of the language in which the stories were first told while keeping the meaning clear to young readers: "Bruh Wolf planted corn one year, and Bruh Rabbit didn't plant a thing. Rabbit, him," she says, "is tricky-some-about to fool a body and not do a lick of work himself." Her images cunningly prod readers to emphasize words that imitate the action described: "Rabbit sneakity-sneaks along.... He's creeping low-down, slow-down, and he sees the scarey-crow-whoom!-standing still and very white in the shine of the moon." If not quite as witty as Barry Moser's Brer Rabbit, Ransome's (Visiting Day) characters ably straddle the demands of their folktale roles. They wear human clothing, for example, but their faces are animal-like both in the glassy roundness of their eyes and in their inscrutability. All in all, this version is just about as satisfying as sitting down on a croker sack and hearing the tale first-hand. Ages 4-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Lazy Bruh Rabbit is always stealing from Bruh Wolf's garden instead of planting his own crops. One day Bruh Wolf decides to make a scarecrow, hoping to trick Bruh Rabbit. Bruh Rabbit, too smart to be scared by a scarecrow, sneaks into the garden and steals more peanuts anyway. When Bruh Wolf discovers that Bruh Rabbit is not fooled by the scarecrow, he makes a tar baby girl. The next time Bruh Rabbit tries to steal peanuts, he gets into a fight with the "girl" in the garden, who will not speak to him. Bruh Rabbit becomes entangled in the gooey mess, unable to get free, but he manages to outsmart Wolf again. Readers who don't know the tar baby story will have to read this book to discover how Bruh Rabbit manages to trick Wolf once again. Virginia Hamilton's version of the tar baby story is one of many retellings. Hers was collected from the islands of South Carolina and maintains the nuances of the Gullah language. Ransome's paintings use rich, vibrant color to illustrate the animals' clothing, Wolf's beautiful garden, and the glow of the sunset. Ransome's interpretation of the animals may be different than others, as the animals look somewhat like humans. Their faces are clearly that of a wolf and a rabbit, but their postures and their clothing are human-like. 2003, Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8.
—Meredith Moore
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-This economic retelling of the classic story invokes the Gullah speech of the South Carolina Sea Islands. Detailing fertile landscapes and wily characters, Ransome's luminous watercolors are as rich as the literary tradition they draw on. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hamilton posthumously revives this archetypal Brer Rabbit tale with a Gullah-inflected rendition, to which Ransome supplies Jerry Pinkney-influenced watercolor scenes of clothed, but naturalistically rendered animals. Finding evidence that lazy Bruh Rabbit's been helping himself to his hard-won crops, Bruh Wolf sets up a rag scarecrow, which fools Bruh Rabbit not a bit, then a tarry, long-eared doe whose silence irritates Rabbit into attacking: "Missy Girl, keeping her mouth shut. Bruh Rabbit took a bite. GUNK! His nose stuck! He sure was one rabbit stuck on somebody!" Young readers may wonder how Bruh Wolf can be canny enough to construct the trap, yet foolish enough to think that chucking his cagey captive into a briar patch would be a punishment-but, that's how the story goes, and the wolf seems only mildly peeved in the final scene. A note on the tale, and on Bruh Rabbit as a character, caps this handsome edition, seemingly destined to become the standard one in libraries. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590473767
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.34 (w) x 10.28 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton
Virginia Hamilton
Virginia Hamilton’s books, which combined African-American and Native American lore with contemporary stories and characters, are memorable not only for their inventiveness and rich characterizations, but also for their ability to evoke a wide variety of times, places, and historical figures.

Biography

A writer of prodigious gifts, Virginia Hamilton forged a new kind of juvenile fiction by twining African-American and Native American history and folklore with contemporary stories and plotlines.

With Hamilton's first novel, Zeely, the story of a young farm girl who fantasizes that a woman she knows is a Watusi queen, she set the bar high. The book won a American Library Association Notable Children's Book citation. Hamilton rose to her own challenge, and every new book she published enriched American literature to such a degree that in 1995 she was awarded the ALA's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lifetime achievement.

Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and raised in an extended family of farmers and storytellers (her own father was a musician), Hamilton's work was inspired by her childhood experiences, family mythology, and Ohio River Valley homeland. In an article about the importance of libraries in children's lives, she credits her mother and the "story lady" at her childhood public library with opening her mind to the world of books.

Although she spent time in New York City working as a bookkeeper after college, and traveled widely in Africa and Europe, Hamilton spent most of her life in Yellow Springs, anchored by the language, geography, and culture of southern Ohio. In The House of Dies Drear, she arranged her story around the secrets of the Underground Railroad. In M. C. Higgins, the Great, winner of both a John Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, she chronicled the struggles of a family whose land, and life spirit, is threatened by strip mining. Publishers Weekly called the novel "one of those rare books which draws the reader in with the first paragraph and keeps him or her turning the page until the end."

In her series of folk-tale collections, including The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, Hamilton salvaged and burnished folk tales from cultures across the world for her stories; stories that suffused her fiction with its extraordinary blend of worldly and otherworldly events, enchantment, and modern reality. Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.

Good To Know

Hamilton's first research trip to a library was to find out more about her family's exotic chickens, which her mother called "rainbow layers," because of the many tints of the eggs they laid.

In 1995, Hamilton became the first children's writer to win a John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur "genius" grant.

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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    A great extention of the original tale

    I have never found Uncle Remus' tales to be offensive, nor do I find this tale offensive. I see them all as tales told as the way things were and in any culture that is great even if the circumstances surrounding the tales were bad. This way, at least some good came from all of it. Good literature is good literature no matter where it may have come from because it proves that even thru the thick of things, some good can come from all of it.

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