Kathleen OdeanChildren appreciate a story in which a child outwits an adult, especially when the adult is a king. In this Cameroon tale, a young girl surpasses the king of seven local villages with her cleverness and is named "Sense Pass King" by the people. Annoyed, the king orders his followers to abandon her in a dangerous forest. But the unharmed Sense Pass King eventually returns home, where her advice becomes highly valued. The lively tale, illustrated by wonderfully detailed acrylics, retains the cadences of oral tradition.
Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklyThe mother-daughter collaborators behind The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women team up for another successful retelling, this time substituting a gifted girl for the customary boy who outwits his royal ruler. Ma'antah could "speak the languages of all seven villages and communicate with animals" by age two, and soon poses a threat to the king's ego. Tchana hits just the right notes as a storyteller; she gives enough details to set the scene, and her smooth pacing will keep readers on the edge of their seats, wondering how the heroine will outsmart the king next. Hyman's artwork suggests the African heat layers of gold silhouettes of trees and straw-colored huts on stilts with palm-frond rooftops are artfully set off by geometrically patterned fabrics in citrus tones. The paintings add another layer to the narrative; for instance, when the king first attempts to kill Ma'antah, he tells his soldiers to leave her in the heart of the forest where "the panthers and the snakes will take care of her." Tchana explains that the girl fills a sack with ashes and pokes a hole in it so she can find her way home, and Hyman's illustration picks up on her ability to talk to the animals, depicting Ma'antah astride a panther, with the snakes accompanying her safely out of the woods. Lots of action and smart thinking make this a winner for children, and adults will find here a welcome alternative to trickster tales, where intelligence is often associated with deviousness. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 3-In this retelling of a traditional tale, young Ma'antah displays such extraordinary cleverness that she earns the nickname, Sense Pass King. The jealous monarch makes repeated attempts to dispose of the child, but ultimately brings her to live in his palace. When he falsely takes credit for slaying a seven-headed sea lizard and saving his future bride, feats accomplished by the pint-sized servant, the villagers have had enough of his dishonesty and cowardice. They drive him out of the kingdom, crown Sense Pass King queen, and all live happily ever after. Children will delight in the youngster's ability to outsmart grown-ups and find her way out of seemingly impossible predicaments. Expansive spreads of lush acrylic artwork are filled with humorous and, at times, magical details. In the final scene, Queen Ma'antah rubs the head of a panther with a snake perched on its back, while a curious audience of lizards, monkeys, and people look on in wonder. Such fantastic images and a clever story line make this a satisfying addition to folklore collections.-Ajokei T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsRich colors and expertly posed people and animals bring both lushness and specificity to this gorgeously illustrated tale from Cameroon. "In the land of seven villages," a child named Ma�antah is born. By age two, she can speak all seven languages and communicate with animals. She is nicknamed Sense Pass King because she has more senseand wisdom and capabilitythan the king himself. His two jealous attempts to kill her are thwarted by her cunning, and as the years go by, she grows smarter and more respected. The king, ever threatened, then takes her into his personal custody. On a voyage, Ma�antahbrought along simply to cookearns the custodianship of a beautiful girl whom the sour king had wished to marry. An ocean must be crossed and a sea monster defeated before they return homeand guess who the hero is? Upon arrival, the king�s soldiers refuse to let him steal the credit, and he is finally banished. Ma�antah is made queen, and in an ending refreshingly devoid of marriage, she and the other girl live on happily together. Hyman (Children of the Dragon, not reviewed, etc.) masterfully balances line and brush stroke: on one spread, a vast watery ocean in liquid greens conveys an entirely different texture from the red and yellow flames shooting upwards, while brilliantly poised on the edge of the ship, Ma�antah arches on tiptoe to shoot a bow and arrow. It�s too bad that Hyman resorts to the stock stereotype of drawing the evil king as fat; otherwise, these riveting acrylic paintings shine with clarity, humanity, and beauty. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)
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