The Brothers Grimm would likely have appreciated this absorbing African yarn, a debut for both author and artist, full of classic European folktale elements. A brother and sister are told to lower the rope ladder of their treehouse only when their fisherman father calls them (``Children, children, in the tree, drop the ladder down to me''). But a hungry witch replicates the father's fishy smell, imitates his voice and climbs the tree, then takes the children home to her hot, bubbly caldron. The father rescues the children but later invites the witch (disguised as a hungry old woman) into the treehouse. The savvy children slip into her bowl a fishhook that pierces her heart, eventually freeing all the children she has ever eaten. This compelling--if a bit scary--text, with Kromer's earthy watercolors and African-patterned borders, offers children a satisfying, nurturing link with an often neglected tradition. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This story appears to be an unsourced variant of the Grimms' ``The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids.'' However, here, it is a fisherman who goes off to work leaving his children with the warning that they must not let anyone into their house in a baobab tree. A witch, disguising herself to gain entry, carries off the children to eat. She almost succeeds, but the man rescues them in the nick of time. Undeterred, and still hungry, the witch then disguises herself as an elderly woman. When she is invited to dinner, it is her greedy eating habits that reveal her true identity and lead to her undoing. There are some curious elements of African folklore in this tale. In order to carry off her disguises, the witch has her tongue stung, once by ants and then by scorpions. The competent, representational watercolor illustrations of these transformations are grotesque. Make no mistake about it, this toothy, leering, yellow-eyed witch is scary! Double-page spreads are bordered with various design motifs, many of which refer to the action described on the page. There are few if any published folktales with fathers who use their wits and strength to rescue their children. However, there is no way to authenticate either the illustrative motifs or the tale since there is no source cited other than the designation of ``African.''-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Two children live in a tree house with their father, a fisherman. When he goes off to fish, he warns them not to let the rope ladder down to anyone else. A witch overhears, and through disguise and trickery, she captures the children. After their father rescues them, the witch returns, and the fisherman's daughter kills her, magically releasing all the children the witch has ever eaten. Although the subtitle identifies this as "an African tale," the inclusion of source notes would have been helpful. Stretching wide across double-page spreads, the colorful artwork features dramatic (and occasionally scary) action shown from a variety of perspectives. Patterned borders frame the scenes. A lively picture book for larger folktale collections and those seeking more African stories.