Misoso: Once Upon a Time Tales from Africa

Overview

Illustrated in full color. From Angola to Zanzibar, this treasury is as varied and bountiful as Africa itself! Master storyteller Verna Aardema retells 12 tales of justice and revenge, greed and generosity, sly trickery, and off-the-wall silliness with her trademark humor and flair. Nearly 50 illustrations vibrantly reflect the spirit of these read-aloud delights, while a map of Africa, story source information, and a personal note from the author make this a rich volume for ...
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Overview

Illustrated in full color. From Angola to Zanzibar, this treasury is as varied and bountiful as Africa itself! Master storyteller Verna Aardema retells 12 tales of justice and revenge, greed and generosity, sly trickery, and off-the-wall silliness with her trademark humor and flair. Nearly 50 illustrations vibrantly reflect the spirit of these read-aloud delights, while a map of Africa, story source information, and a personal note from the author make this a rich volume for folk-tale lovers of all ages.

A collection of twelve folktales from different parts of Africa.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A dozen well-told stories from Africa illustrate the diversity of that continent, highlighting the richness of specific cultures as well as the more general importance of the spoken word. Some stories seem familiar-a pourquoi tale from Sierra Leone of how the leopard got his spots-but the versions here offer new variants (e.g., the pourquoi tale also explains how crying first began-and how it can be stopped). Some are purely amusing, while others have their roots in imperialism and slavery. Aardema (Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears) writes with vigor and wit, sprinkling each entry with words from the country of origin (these are translated in glossaries at the beginning of each story). Individual afterwards set each story in context, and source notes are unusually helpful, explaining that most of the tales are taken from those sub-Saharan coastal regions where European traders, missionaries and anthropologists first established posts and settlements. Illustrations in tropical colors are imbued with movement and energy until the figures seem to be all spiky arms and legs, and Ruffins mirrors Aardema's concern for atmosphere with his use of patterns and geometric details. A zestful and well-researched presentation, delivered via especially clean, inviting book design. Ages 5-10. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A wonderful collection of twelve tales from the perimeters of Africa that, in spite of the disclaimer that they are merely to entertain, contain many good lessons as well. Since they were originally passed to ensuing generations orally, they beg to be read aloud. As with the original storytellers, kids should be encouraged to chant the refrains, cheer when cleverness and good succeed, and laugh at the silly antics of people and animals. A real plus for teachers is the afterword that accompanies each story. Also provided are keys to pronunciation and a bibliography. Bright colored illustrations in pencil and acrylic highlight characters, clothing, flora, fauna, and homes appropriate to each story. They are liberally interspersed with the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Beautifully designed as well as vibrantly illustrated, this compilation of lively African tales works on all levels. A bright, easily read map in the introduction places the stories in their own locale on the continent. Each tale is preceded by a glossary of unfamiliar words and includes an afterword about the setting and culture where the story originated. Aardema's lively style makes the stories leap off the page and beg to be told, or at least read aloud. ``Goso the Teacher,'' a cumulative rhymed narrative originally told in Swahili, recalls ``The House that Jack Built'' but is firmly set in the culture of Zanzibar. ``Leelee Goro,'' a pourquoi tale from Sierra Leone, gives explanations for eight different phenomena-including how crying came into the world, and how to stop it-yet remains lighthearted and amusing to the end. This collection belongs in every library and classroom.-Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Hazel Rochman
"In the beginning, when the earth was set down and the sky was lifted up, some things were not quite finished. . . . The animals gathered together for a meeting." This superb retelling of 12 African folktales is meant to be read aloud; it has a vivid, rhythmic storytelling style that ranges from the mythic and mysterious to the colloquial and absurd. The stories include a Khoikhoi fable from southern Africa, a Temne "pourquoi" tale (what brought crying into the world and how to stop it), a very funny Swahili cumulative poem that will get kids chanting along, and an Anansi the Spider story from Liberia. For each tale, Aardema provides a brief glossary and an afterword that discusses theme, origin, culture, genre, and connections. The arrangement is geographical (there's a large, clear map showing where each tale is from), and Aardema has gone back to early sources that were recorded in African languages and then translated into English. The handsome design, which makes the large-size volume great for group sharing, has lots of white space and a bold variety of dramatic, detailed, colorful, folk-art-style pencil and acrylic illustrations, some framed, some tumbling over the pages. Like the tales in Aardema's "Traveling to Tondo" (1991) and the 1976 Caldecott winner "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears", these stories will make kids laugh and will hold them fast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679934301
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/13/1994
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.51 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

* Verna Aardema grew up in New Era, Michigan as the third in a family of nine children.  A cedar swamp in the back of her house served as her inspiration and retreat as a young aspiring writer.

* At Michigan State College, Verna took many writing courses, but none that were aimed at writing for children.  She didn't think about the children's book field until many years later, when she had to make up stories to get her baby daughter to eat.

* Verna writes mostly African folktales because of her fascination with that infinitely diverse continent.  Out of its jungles, deserts, and great plains have come some of the most unusual and charming folktales in the world.

* As of today, Verna has published over 25 books and is still working on more.  Her books have been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Afrikaans.  

* Verna lives in North Fort Myers, Florida, with her husband, Albert.  

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