Princess Gorilla and a New Kind of Water: Mpongwe Tale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Artist and author, displaying the considerable wit and style for which each is known, turn an age-old idea on its side: the events surrounding a contest for the hand of a princess. King Gorilla is intent on selecting a strong, brave husband for his daughter. Whoever can quaff a barrel of vinegar, he declares, shall be the one. Elephant saunters up confidently and takes a generous trunkful of the bitter stuff. In the end, the princess marries the handsome gorilla she's had her eye on all along, but not until she's had the fun of seeing a host of animals apply themselves to the task, with increasingly comical results. Aardema has created a high-spirited, infectiously funny story, and the language of the tale is jaunty, playful and perfect for reading aloud. Chess's illustrations are an inspired choice. Her animals scheme, boast, swagger, spit and, in the case of the princess, chortle with gleeful expressions hilariously rendered in her lush pen-and-watercolor scenes. Ages 4-8. (March)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2 In this light-hearted folktale from the West African Mpongwe, King Gorilla decrees that whoever can drink a barrel of mysterious, malodorous water (actually vinegar) will win his daughter's hand in marriage. Four confident suitors: Elephant, Hippopotamus, Hog, and Leopard are defeated in their attempts to down the disgusting drink. The tiny talapoin succeeds by taking one sip at a time, then dashing into the brush where he is replaced by another mischievous monkey. This collective treachery is revealed when 100 chattering monkeys demand the royal bride. Romance abruptly turns into porquoi story. In anger, Leopard attacks the tricksters who take refuge in the treetops; hence, their arboreal, tail-swinging status. As for the princess, she chooses her own beastly bridegroom. Despite the shaky structure, children will respond favorably to Aardema's trademark descriptions of sounds (Hog moves ``naka, naka, naka'') gentle humor, and simple rhymes. Surrounded by African motif borders, the brightly colored paintings (pen, ink, and dry-brush watercolors) are appropriately playful and primitive. Chess has a knack for creating amiably human beasts. While this story lacks the spirit of Aardema's best work, it is adequately retold and suitable for reading aloud and storytelling. Julie Corsaro, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803704138
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/1988
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.39 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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