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School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up
Naidoo retells eight stories from southern Africa that feature Mmutla the hare. The animals are named in Setswana, the native language of Botswana. The tales are well paced and easy to read aloud. "The Great Tug-of-War," in which Mmutla tricks Tlou the elephant and Kubu the hippo into a pulling contest against one another, and "Little Animals Should Not Make Fun of Big Animals!," which tells how he escapes his punishment for tricking them by breaking off his beautiful long tail, are both included in Hugh Tracey's The Lion on the Path (Praeger, 1968; o.p.). In "Does One Good Turn Deserve Another?"-similar to Suzanne Crowder Han's Korean tale, The Rabbit's Judgment (Holt, 1994; o.p.)-the hare helps a girl to escape from the crocodile whose life she has saved. In "The Race," a variation of "The Tortoise and the Hare," the boastful Mmutla is outsmarted by Khudu the tortoise, who reaches the finish line first by enlisting the help of his children, nieces, and nephews, each of whom runs a piece of the race to the water hole. "Horse and Toad," a Haitian tale retold by Diane Wolkstein in The Magic Orange Tree (Schocken, 1997) is a closer rendition of the same story, as is "Mr. Rabbit Finds His Match at Last" in Joel Chandler Harris's The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus (Houghton, 2002). Small pen-and-ink drawings appear throughout.
—Susan SchepsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.