Callie Ann and Mistah Bear: An African-American Folktale

Overview

Oh, that Mistah Bear! When he learns Callie Ann's widowed mamma is looking for a new husband, he gets dressed up in disguise and passes himself off as gentlefolk. Soon she's feeding him all her sweets, but savvy Callie Ann quickly uncovers the truth. Now Mistah Bear is fighting mad and enlists his sisters' help to get revenge on Callie Ann.

Award-winning author Robert San Souci weaves a fantastic tale where, as in the Hans Christian Andersen ...
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Overview

Oh, that Mistah Bear! When he learns Callie Ann's widowed mamma is looking for a new husband, he gets dressed up in disguise and passes himself off as gentlefolk. Soon she's feeding him all her sweets, but savvy Callie Ann quickly uncovers the truth. Now Mistah Bear is fighting mad and enlists his sisters' help to get revenge on Callie Ann.

Award-winning author Robert San Souci weaves a fantastic tale where, as in the Hans Christian Andersen favorite The Emperor's New Clothes, a young child is sharper than any adult around. This zesty book will enthrall readers as scheming bears practically leap off its pages and Callie Ann, with delightful humor, repeatedly puts them all to shame!

A bear disguised as a fine, handsome man comes courting Callie's mother and Callie must outwit the bear to prevent her mother from marrying it.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
When animals could talk is when this story is situated. Suspend disbelief, all who enter here. And be ready for changeovers. This is a story about appearance vs. reality(the age-old tale of literature in which things are not quite what they seem. First comes the suitors to woo Callie Ann's widowed Mom. There was always steadfast Mose, whom Callie Ann preferred, but who lacked a certain luster. Then came "Mistah Bear"(an artful guy who knew what to say when. But his sweet tooth eventually gave him away. The dogs came to the rescue. One of the most dramatic pictures is of Bear being tousled about over a double-page spread. Then the bears reappear as proper ladies. What are they after, you wonder, other than the allure of honey sweets. Their extravagant clothing masks their wild faces as they dose the honey jars. Callie Ann resists them for the tallest pine. Her response: "Just tell them how scared I am of' ladies with fuzzy ears and noses, who run four-legged like critters." Indeed. The barking hounds play their part, and all is well. Callie Ann is indomitable as she actually ventures into the bears's cabin. She play acts being a bear(a sweet reversal(to the rage of a fiery bear, who is quickly swept away by a surging river. The illustrations are such an integral part of the drama of this story. Don Daily excels in capturing facial expressions, which show great variation. The source notes are exquisite(some of the best I know. I recently used the notes to train storytellers as to what to say when. 2000, Dial, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Anne Lundin — The Five Owls, November/December 2000 (Vol. 15 No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-San Souci tells a rollicking story, playing fast and loose with the tales he has based it on. Callie Ann's widowed mother is so impressed with "quality folk" that she is fooled when Mistah Bear strolls up to her porch disguised as a finely dressed gentleman to pay his respects. The child, of course, is not fooled in the least, but her mother hushes her protestations, and Callie Ann gets into a tight spot-up a tree-before she finally tricks Mistah Bear once and for all. San Souci's narrative in dialect is enticing and rhythmic, but long. There is a natural pause in the middle, and this, it turns out, is exactly where he has patched together the two stories he cites (in his endnote) as having based this on "rather loosely." The author has borrowed the basic structures of two "Escape Up the Tree" tales, but has dispensed with many details and characters and added several of his own. The presentation of this story as a folktale "retold" is therefore frustrating, especially in light of the fine illustrations. Daily's full- and double-page gouache spreads are dramatic and funny, finely detailed and full of motion. The warm-hued compositions triangulate the focus, giving a sweeping and open look to the farm and pine-wooded setting. Independent readers and storytime audiences will appreciate this enjoyable picture book, but librarians may not appreciate its classification in nonfiction.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a variant of Wiley and the Hairy Man, San Souci (Peter and the Blue Witch Baby, p. 892, etc.) tells the story with characters speaking a slight dialect. Callie Ann thinks "good-natured hardworking Mose would make a fine stepdaddy." But Callie Ann's Mama "plans t' marry a quality gennelman." And when a stranger strolls up from the piney woods with a broad-brimmed hat, a fancy coat, and white spats, she invites him "inter the kitchen to sit a spell." It is up to Callie Ann to expose Mistah Bear for the sweet-toothed varmint he is, and she does. But, Mistah Bear is vengeful and sends his two sisters, dressed in elegant finery, to trick Callie Ann into the woods. With tough advice from Mose, and her own quick wits, Callie Ann saves the day, but not before she is trapped in a tree. Daily's picture-book debut is fairly successful; his illustrations in gouache present strong, colorful characters. The sister bears are especially fine in their elegant costumes complete with parasols, veils, and gloves. His softly rendered backgrounds are reminiscent of Jerry Pinkney's work. The overall design of the book is pleasing, but some of the pictures are strangely static and posed rather than full of action. The typeface is formal, giving an old-fashioned sense to the tale. However, the capital letters have a heavy look to them and seem to jump out at the reader. This detracts from a uniform-looking text and mars a smooth integration of pictures and text. The lively text and story will be enjoyed by a group, though the dialect used by the characters might put some storytellers off. There are notes as to sources used, and the African and African-American background is further explained.(Picturebook/folktale. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803717664
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.78 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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