Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks: A Masai Tale

Overview

Illustrated in full color. Beloved storyteller Verna Aardema is at her finest in this African animal tale, weaving charm and suspense with a delightfully satisfying resolution. Peering down from her treetop perch, a lonely lioness admires the noisily cheeping clan of Mother Ostrich and thinks, "I would be happy to have just one child." So she leaps down, gurum! and steals all four ostrich chicks. Accepting the lioness as their mother, the chicks follow right behind he. Mother Ostrich is frantic! As she chases ...
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Overview

Illustrated in full color. Beloved storyteller Verna Aardema is at her finest in this African animal tale, weaving charm and suspense with a delightfully satisfying resolution. Peering down from her treetop perch, a lonely lioness admires the noisily cheeping clan of Mother Ostrich and thinks, "I would be happy to have just one child." So she leaps down, gurum! and steals all four ostrich chicks. Accepting the lioness as their mother, the chicks follow right behind he. Mother Ostrich is frantic! As she chases after the lioness, she enlists the help of gazelle, hyena, jackal, and mongoose. But which one can help her to get her chicks back? With art by Yumi Heo that blends primitive, African, and folk styles, The Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks is a captivating picture book destined to be a classic.

In this retelling of a Masai tale, a mongoose helps an ostrich get her chicks back from the lonely lioness who has stolen them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Salvaged from Aardema's out-of-print Tales for the Third Ear, this Masai tale shines as a standalone offering, thanks partly to Heo's (The Green Frogs) fresh, invigorating oil and pencil illustrations. A cubless, lonely lioness snatches four chicks from a mother ostrich. The distraught mother seeks help from a gazelle, hyena, jackal and finally a mongoose, who tricks the lioness into turning away from the chicks long enough for the ostrich mother to take them back. Aardema's use of crisp dialogue and Masai sound effects (a purr is "irtil-irtil") creates fertile ground for enthusiastic storytelling. Heo's unique style brings a great energy, too. Almost hieroglyphic in their eschewal of perspective, her paintings are a pastiche of likable animal characters and seemingly tornado-tossed details splattered across a stylishly distressed background. This pairing of talents is ideal for such a frolicsome tale. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
This Masai tale emphasizes the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her little ones. When a envious lioness steals the chicks from a mother ostrich, mama seeks help from an assortment of animals who live nearby. Korean artist Heo colors the story with tiny sketches, folk art patterns and caricatures of the animals.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
This is a clever retelling of a Masai fable that begins with a mother ostrich leading her chicks to feed under a tree, unaware that a lioness lies sleeping in the branches above. But the lioness, waking, spies the lovely little chicks, and ("gurum!) leaps down and grabs them. Not, as you might imagine, for prey, but because she is lonely and has no little ones of her own. The story ends happily for the mother ostrich and her chicks, though not perhaps as happily for the lioness, who is tricked and left to feel foolish. Whimsical illustrations make this a cheerful rendition of a story that Aardema retold previously in a 1969 collection.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-When a solitary lioness decides to capture one of Mother Ostrich's chicks to keep her company, she gets more than she bargained for and ends up with all four chicks in her care. Despite their mother's pleas for their return, the little ones seem contented to follow along behind the kind and doting big cat. The distraught Mother Ostrich tries to enlist the help of first a gazelle, then a hyena, a jackal, and finally a mongoose. While the other creatures are fearful of the lioness and tread softly around her, the brazen mongoose taunts her and gets her to chase him, thus allowing Mother Ostrich to reclaim her youngsters and walk them home, "tuk-pik, tuk-pik, tuk-pik." This traditional tale of cleverness winning out over strength is retold in an understated but satisfying manner. Heo's enormously appealing, stylized artwork captures the expansiveness and colors of the sun-drenched veld and offers unusual perspectives of the animal characters, rendered in expressive cartoon style. The docile, smiling lioness shows her true colors when the mongoose insults her. Children will delight in this well-told story and will come away with the feeling that all's right with the world. A natural for reading aloud and sharing with a group.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679869344
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/5/1996
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.81 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Verna Aardema grew up in New Era, Michigan as the third in a family of nine children.  A cedar swamp in the back of her house served as her inspiration and retreat as a young aspiring writer.  At Michigan State College, Verna took many writing courses, but none that were aimed at writing for children.  She didn't think about the children's book field until many years later, when she had to make up stories to get her baby daughter to eat. Verna writes mostly African folktales because of her fascination with that infinitely diverse continent.  Out of its jungles, deserts, and great plains have come some of the most unusual and charming folktales in the world. As of today, Verna has published over 25 books and is still working on more.  Her books have been translated into French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Afrikaans.

Verna lives in North Fort Myers, Florida, with her husband, Albert.  

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