Jabuti the Tortoise: A Trickster Tale from the Amazon

Overview


Of all the animals in the rain forest, Jabutí was the favorite. His shell was smooth and shiny, and the songs he played on his flute were sweet.
But his music was a reminder, too, of the mischievous pranks Jabutí sometimes played. His song reminded Tapir of being tricked, Jaguar of being fooled, and time and again it reminded Vulture that he had no song at all. When a concert takes place in heaven, Vulture offers to fly Jabutí there . . . all ...
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Jabuti the Tortoise: A Trickster Tale from the Amazon

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Overview


Of all the animals in the rain forest, Jabutí was the favorite. His shell was smooth and shiny, and the songs he played on his flute were sweet.
But his music was a reminder, too, of the mischievous pranks Jabutí sometimes played. His song reminded Tapir of being tricked, Jaguar of being fooled, and time and again it reminded Vulture that he had no song at all. When a concert takes place in heaven, Vulture offers to fly Jabutí there . . . all the while plotting a trick of his own.
Gerald McDermott makes myths new again for readers of all ages, using language as vibrant and colorful as his bold illustrations. Jabutí is an unusual tale of a trickster’s fall from grace, and of how creation can sometimes come from chaos.

All the birds enjoy the song-like flute music of Jabuti, the tortoise, except Vulture who, jealous because he cannot sing, tricks Jabuti into riding his back toward a festival planned by the King of Heaven.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A fine addition to the body of work by a proven master."--Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will revel in this whimsical folktale . . . McDermott's words paint beautiful stories and wonderful pictures."--Library Talk

"Color springs from the pages . . . Simply written and well paced, this will make an imaginative read-aloud choice for classroom units on the rain forest."--Booklist

"A simple yet lyrical tale that is as satisfying to hear as it is to read."
--School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
With its shocking-pink jacket and swirls of brilliant designs, McDermott's retelling of this rain forest tale is visually arresting but narratively a bit colorless. The reputed trickster Jabut! gets his comeuppance when a jealous Vulture offers to fly the tortoise and his flute to the King of Heaven's festival of song, then wickedly drops his passenger down from the skies. The King of Heaven chastises the vulture, and the birds who put Jabut!'s smooth shell back together again gain new feathers as their reward. Though Jabut!'s shell is "cracked and patched," his "song is sweet." Oddly, Jabut! doesn't possess a trickster's lively intelligence or cleverness, and the story's plot is resolved by the God of Heaven's intervention rather than by the protagonist's cunning. The story begins with the animals that Jabut! has tricked, but they all disappear immediately in favor of a pourquoi tale about how the tortoise got the cracks on his shell. McDermott's illustrations, on the other hand, vibrate with electric colors and patterns. Jabuti's huge eyes and geometric smile, and the interior, brightly colored birds are startling when silhouetted against the pink sky. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Many animals have been tricked by Jabutí, the flute-playing tortoise with the smooth, shiny shell. The angriest of all is the jealous Vulture. When the King of Heaven calls all the birds up to a festival, Jabutí wants to play his sweet music there. Vulture, seeing his chance for revenge, offers to fly Jabutí up there, but treacherously drops him on the rocks where his shell is shattered. The King of Heaven, however, sends the birds to find his pieces so they can put him together to play his music, and his tricks, again. McDermott uses the brilliant colors of the Amazon¾lush greens, hot pinks, lapis blues¾in his cubistic style to fashion the fantastic landscape and flocks of multi-hued jungle birds across the double pages. But it's the gray and black vulture with its small yellow eyes that makes the greatest impression by contrast. A source note is included. 2001, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Jabut' the tortoise enchants the birds of the Amazon rain forest with the sweet song of his flute. Still, not every forest creature can forgive him for his chicanery or his talent, and somber Vulture is so jealous over Jabut''s song that he himself turns trickster by offering to fly the tortoise to heaven so he can play for the King of Heaven. Jabut' foolishly accepts the offer and is purposely tossed off Vulture's back, tumbling through the air and landing on his smooth shell, which shatters upon a rock. The King commands the birds to search for him, and upon finding him, they piece his shattered shell back together, forming a handsome new design. In turn, the small creature thanks them with a song and they are given brilliant new colors, while Vulture remains both dull and songless. Combining various traditional story elements indigenous to the Amazon rain forest with more ubiquitous folkloric themes, McDermott offers a simple yet lyrical tale that is as satisfying to hear as it is to read. While Jabut' appears less a cunning trickster than a beloved songster, the story succeeds by embracing what McDermott refers to as a universal trickster theme, namely, "Creation comes from chaos." Utilizing a radiant palette to evoke the brilliance and vitality of the region, McDermott's spreads feature his familiar geometrically drawn characters that seem to vibrate against the lush-green stylized foliage set upon hot-pink backgrounds. The result is a worthy addition to the artist's impressive series of trickster tales.-Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152053741
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 232,261
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

GERALD MCDERMOTT (1941-2012) was an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator of books for children. A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York City and a lifelong artist, he began his career as an animated filmmaker before moving into the creation of children's books based on storytelling traditions from around the world. He was awarded the Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors; his extensive and influential body of work includes six popular picture books focusing on the trickster motif. Devoted to oral tradition and the transformative power of mythology, he was the first Fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and served as a consultant on mythology in education. www.geraldmcdermott.com

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