The Lion's Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale


Bold collages by a Caldecott Honor-winning artist illuminate a compelling Ethiopian folktale with a positive message about step-parenting. In this lively tale, a woman must pluck three whiskers from a fierce lion's chin in order to win her stepson's trust. Full color.

In this tale from the Amhara people of Ethiopia, a patient woman uses her experience with a wild lion to win the love of her new stepson.

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1995-04-01 Hardcover New New! Oversized hardback book, dust jacket protected in mylar. 1st printing! #450. FAST shipping, FREE delivery confirmation and online tracking. Thank ... you! Read more Show Less

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Bold collages by a Caldecott Honor-winning artist illuminate a compelling Ethiopian folktale with a positive message about step-parenting. In this lively tale, a woman must pluck three whiskers from a fierce lion's chin in order to win her stepson's trust. Full color.

In this tale from the Amhara people of Ethiopia, a patient woman uses her experience with a wild lion to win the love of her new stepson.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fanaye, beyond child-bearing age when she marries the widower Tesfa, is overjoyed at making a family with her husband and his son, Ababe, ``the child I have always wanted.'' But Ababe wants no part of her: he pushes away the food she prepares, ruins the clothes she mends and refuses to sit close for her stories. When a medicine man tells Fanaye to gather three whiskers from a fierce lion for a magic potion that will gain her Ababe's love, she collects them by carefully and gradually winning the beast's trust-by letting him come to her. The potion is no longer needed, for the same strategy works with Ababe. This Ethiopian folktale is full of rich imagery and wisdom: equally compelling are the drama of Fanaye's approach to the lion and the larger message, that distance is sometimes a necessary preface to intimacy. Grifalconi's (The Village of Round and Square Houses) collages ably evoke the timeless quality of a parable-the frequent facelessness of her cut-out figures suggests a certain universality, especially in silhouette. From the vast beige expanse of the desert to the almost palpably blazing sun to the cool indigos of the sky as night falls, she strikingly renders the landscapes of Fanaye's country. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judith Campbell
Fanaye desperately wants to win the love and affection of her stepson, Abebe. He still misses his deceased mother and is unmoved by her kindness. Desperate for a solution, Fanaye visits the medicine man who says she must first bring him three whiskers from a fierce old lion. Over the next days she gains the courage to face the lion. As she brings food for the lion daily, he little by little allows her to get closer without threatening her with his fierce growl. Months later the lion eats from her hands and she gets the whiskers. Fanaye then learns that the answer to her heartache is not what the medicine man can do, but what he said, "treat your stepson like the lion, and you will win his love." Day by day, Abebe cautiously comes closer to her until one lonely night he ask her to tell him a story. She tells him about the time she befriended a fierce lion.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Fanaye, an Ethiopian woman, tries to win the love of her new stepson by showering him with the best of everything. He rejects her attention. She finally seeks counsel from the local medicine man who tells her she must get 3 of the lion's whiskers. "The lion will kill me!" The medicine man assures her that she will find a way. After several months, she succeeds. Slowly she learns that to win the love of someone, takes time and patience. A wonderfully wise tale. The collage illustrations are sensational. Patterned papers of various textures create imaginative desert images. Pieces of twigs, moss, fabric, parts of photos create scenes that are masterful. This is an award-winner!
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Fanaye, past the age for marriage and children, is elated when Tesfa, the widower, offers both. His grieving son, however, becomes sullen and withdrawn when doting Fanaye offers her nurture. Desperate, Fanaye seeks counsel of a medicine man who tells her she must collect three lion's whiskers. Slowly and patiently, Fanaye befriends the lion, accomplishes the task, and applies this wisdom to win over her stepson. The textural collages evoke desert settings and images of love with equal strength.
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-Day retells a folktale of Ethiopia's Amhara people in a readable manner that will appeal to both children and adults. A woman seeking the advice of a medicine man on how to win the love of her young stepson is told that she must pluck three whiskers from the chin of a fierce old lion. As she slowly earns the beast's trust, she learns the way to the boy's heart, as well. Day has elaborated upon the ending of the story as told in Russell Davis and Brent Ashabranner's The Lion's Whiskers (Little, 1959; o.p.), giving more life to the characters. Grifalconi's earth-toned collages provide a perfect window to the tale. Her careful use of plain and patterned papers of various textures, both cut and torn, results in an effective portrait of the desert-its ever-changing sands, oases, dunes, and rock formations. Pieces of fabric, parts of photographs (sometimes just a head, arm, hand, or leg attached to a body made of paper and cloth with face and hair drawn in), and tiny twigs, moss, and other natural materials add both artistic appeal and ethnic veracity. A surefire read-aloud and discussion-starter, accompanied by masterful artistic expression.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Hazel Rochman
A loving stepmother is the main character in a folktale retold from the Amhara people of Ethiopia. Heartbroken because her stepson rejects her, Fanaye seeks help from a wise medicine man, who tells her to bring him three whiskers from the ferocious lion that prowls in the black-rock desert. Over many months, she tames the lion and learns from that experience how to tame the boy and make him need her and love her. The quest is exciting, and the emotions of mother and son are powerful. Children will recognize the boy's wild anger and his need for loving reconciliation. Grifalconi's collage illustrations in warm desert shades of brown and red make stunning use of photographs and all kinds of textured materials and colored papers, including folk patterns of woven cloth, wood, and beadwork--for example, the lion's whiskers are the whisks from a straw broom. The medicine man's cave jumps with wild combinations of shapes and shadows; in contrast is the stark desert view, wide and open, as the brave woman undertakes her quest into the wild.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590458030
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/1995
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.36 (w) x 8.91 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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  • Posted January 11, 2012

    The Lion's Whiskers

    The Lion's Whiskers was a great book. I like how the author and illustrator knew what kind of food Ethiopians eat and what kind of clothes we wear. The food really made me want some wat (Ethiopian stew). They also know Ethiopian names. I gave this a four star review because I think that anyone can read it and it was overall a great book. I hope you make more books about Ethiopia or Eritrea.

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