Nobiah's Well: A Modern African Folk Tale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The women of Nobiah's parched village spend much of their time walking to the nearest well, many miles away. When Nobiah is sent there one day, he shares most of his hard-won water with the thirsty animals he encounters on the way home. His mother is enraged, but the animals return that night and persuade Nobiah that, working together, they can dig their own well, and the village prospers thereafter. A thinly veiled and ultimately facile vehicle for the author's well-intentioned social agenda, the story is both obvious and unsatisfying, leaving unanswered such questions as why the villagers have settled in such an inhospitable spot and why, if a well can be as easily dug as events suggest, they have not undertaken to dig one on their own. More imagination has gone into the illustrations--stylized watercolors with especially appealing animal figures (but, on occasion, almost cartoonish humans). Roth uses color to particularly good effect, setting off the scorching pink-oranges and dusty earth tones of the arid landscape against the cool, deep indigos of a starlit night. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-There is a drought in an unnamed region of Africa, and Nobiah's mother must walk many miles to collect water. One day she is ill, and her son makes the trek. On the way home, a variety of animals beg him for a drink for themselves and their offspring, for they are dying of thirst as well. The good-hearted Nobiah obliges, but when he gets home, there is only enough water for his mother and baby sister-none for himself or the garden. That night, the animals come to the window and ask for something to drink. When he tells them what happened, they tell him to dig a well. By morning, the villagers have water. The interdependence of humans and animals has been a theme in African folklore, as expressed in the retellings of Tololwa Mollel and others. Yet this book is a pale derivative, appearing mainly to make a point rather than to provide a realistic sampling of the African folk tradition. Nobiah's mother is portrayed in both text and illustrations as a fierce, ill-tempered woman who lacks understanding of her son's generosity, and he must show his elders how to live. This is billed as ``a modern folktale,'' but no sources are given. The generational reversal is not characteristic of African folklore or the rural African literary tradition, and its presence here shows the author's lack of familiarity with her material. The watercolors are done in a primitive style, and are of average quality; the first page of text has a totally different typeface from the rest of the book, and is jarring and unattractive.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824986223
  • Publisher: Ideals Publications
  • Publication date: 8/15/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.13 (w) x 10.08 (h) x 0.38 (d)

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