Night Has Ears: African Proverbs

Overview

Ashley Bryan says, "My mother had a proverb for any situation, attitude, or event." Many of us have had the same experience. But have you ever heard, "As a crab walks, so walk its children" or "A log may lie in the water for ten years, but it will never become a crocodile"? These are two of the twenty-six African proverbs Ashley Bryan has chosen to illustrate in this book.
Having grown up with proverbs, it was no surprise to Mr. Bryan when he began reading African literature to ...

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Overview

Ashley Bryan says, "My mother had a proverb for any situation, attitude, or event." Many of us have had the same experience. But have you ever heard, "As a crab walks, so walk its children" or "A log may lie in the water for ten years, but it will never become a crocodile"? These are two of the twenty-six African proverbs Ashley Bryan has chosen to illustrate in this book.
Having grown up with proverbs, it was no surprise to Mr. Bryan when he began reading African literature to find African proverbs along with African stories. The proverbs grew out of the lives and experiences of the varied African peoples.
Each proverb here is credited to a specific tribe, yet, as Ashley Bryan explains, most were known in other tribes as well. And in fact, all are true for people everywhere. We may not see crabs often, but we understand about crab children, and even people who do not have crocodiles nearby know that they do not begin as logs. This is a book to treasure for its rich universal wisdom and its gloriously evocative illustrations.

A collection of twenty-six proverbs, some serious and some humorous, from a variety of African tribes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Bryan's (Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, reviewed below) thoughtful introduction to this eclectic collection of 26 African proverbs from various traditions (Yoruba, Gola, Maasi, etc.), he reflects on the "household of proverbs" in which he was raised. He suggests that "proverbs seek to raise meaning out of our daily experiences," and accompanies each saying with a gouache and watercolor illustration above the text. Like the interlocking shapes of stained glass windows, the paintings combine human and animal representations with complex, light-filled designs. At first glance, the artwork may seem repetitious, but close inspection reveals the intricacy and diversity of the compositions. Illustrating the Swahili proverb "Do not try to fight a lion if you are not one yourself," for example, Bryan balances seriousness and humor. He pairs a childlike face with a lion's nose and mane next to a more menacing, mask-like lion's face; both faces feature teeth queued across their mouths like the bars of a cage in a child's crayon drawing. Accompanying the stunning Ashanti proverb, "No one knows the story of tomorrow's dawn," the splintered sun hovers over stars and a sky-blue moon while a pair of roosters wait to crow. Though some proverbs seem directed more to adults than children, this is a book with words and art to ponder. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-This collection of proverbs represents a range of thoughtful admonitions and contemplations, both serious and humorous. The beauty of this work is in the many possible meanings these words will elicit. Whether considering the Krahn saying, "Never try to catch a black cat at night"; the Kpelle proverb, "As a crab walks, so walk its children"; or the Ashanti phrase, "No one knows the story of tomorrow's dawn," readers can imagine the stories behind these expressions. Each proverb has its own page and is interpreted with a colorful, energetic painting that extends the folkloric theme with playful symbols and figures. The tempera-and-gouache pictures with white outlines are reminiscent of woodcuts. This book will find an audience among families, discussion groups, and readers who relish discovering the wisdom of words.-Joan Zaleski, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689824272
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,440,852
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine, where he can often be found with a cluster of children, all singing.

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine, where he can often be found with a cluster of children, all singing.

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