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Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale

Iroko-Man: A Yoruba Folktale

by Phillis Gershator, Holly C. Kim (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Using a somewhat more formal approach than that found in Tukama Tootles the Flute (see review above), Gershator here retells a Yoruba folktale about a ``man-spirit'' who inhabits the iroko tree. He is both fearsome (anyone who looked at him face-to-face ``went mad and died'') and capable of working great good. So, when a Nigerian village suffers many years without a single childbirth, the women appeal to the ogre-god, promising fruit and livestock from their farms. The woodcarver's wife, having no such means, desperately pledges her first-born. The Iroko-man, true to type, does eventually demand the child, but the woodcarver, also true to type, devises a plan that pleases everyone. In her first children's book, Kim creates sumptuous compositions of painted cut papers. Radiant backgrounds and such details as regional textile patterns suffuse her spreads with light and motion. A visual feast. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-The Iroko-man, who inhabits the heart of a very old iroko tree, is a powerful spirit capable of both good and evil magic. When no babies are born in the village, the women appeal to him to lift the spell. In return, the farmers' wives promise food and animals, but the woodcarver's wife, having no food, rashly offers her firstborn. Predictably, the woman regrets the contract and breaks her pledge when the child is born. For this, the Iroko-man turns her into a bird. The woodcarver cleverly conspires to satisfy the spirit while keeping his child by carving a child-sized replica. The wooden child is the perfect solution: it never cries, and it always smiles. Kim includes details of clothing and housing accurate to the Yoruba, and her cut-paper collages have a primitive, folk quality appropriate to the tale. Iroko-man himself is imaginatively realized as a sort of leafy, arboreal monster-just a touch scary. Readers unfamiliar with the usual inconsistencies of folklore plots may reasonably point out that the basic premise is shaky. Why would a woman promise her firstborn in return for a child? Never mind. The story has a more clever and satisfying climax than most: a wooden child for a wooden man! Rarely anthologized, this unusual tale, with its chants that invite audience participation, should have success in story times. It is just the sort of mildly frightening tale young listeners relish. An author's source note is appended.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.11(w) x 11.36(h) x 0.39(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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