Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale

Only One Cowry: A Dahomean Tale

by Phillis Gershator, David Soman

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This east African folktale tells of the first Dahomean king, Dada Segbo, who declares he will pay no more than one cowry shell for a bride. A clever young fellow happily named Yo says, "I will find the king a bride for only one cowry," and off he sets to parley one shell into a fortune. He then bargains for a chief's daughter. Now, this chief's daughter is as smart as Yo and says she cannot possibly leave home until she has eaten. King Dada Segbo sends 50 calabashes of food. Next come 100 calabashes of palm wine. The king also sends a trunkful of clothes and jewelry, and "how magnificent she was now, wrapped in the most elegant cloths [sic]."Award-winning illustrator David Soman's African tribal colors are jewel-like against the settings' sandy backgrounds, making each page a rich feast for the eye. Drawings emphasize the characters' dignity and intelligence, and in Yo's case, we see a trickster whose loyalty to his sovereign counts no less than his devotion to his own self-interest. Whether the story is a classic trickster tale or a study of capitalistic beginnings, Only One Cowry will charm children and adults alike. There is an informative authors note at the end. 2000, Orchard Books,
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Gershator brings her considerable storytelling skills to this tale of a stingy king who wishes to pay only a single cowry shell as a bride-price. Yo, a young and clever subject, accepts the ruler's challenge to find him a spouse for this meager offering. Yo takes the shell and slowly but surely, through work and barter, turns it into a suitable dowry, saying with each new acquisition, "Well, well, I'm doing well, thanks to Dada Segbo's shell." When the bride Yo locates discovers that the King was intent on paying only a single cowry to her family, she does some clever manipulating of her own. Soman's full-page collage illustrations are rich in texture and design and are a good match for the text. An author's note on the history of the tale is appended. A delightful addition to folktale shelves.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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