Gr 4-6 A handsome volume with an unusual format. Thirty-six African folktales, each with tribal identification, give imaginative reasons for certain animal characteristics: why the cheeks of the cheetah are stained with tears, how the jackal got his markings, why the ostrich has a long neck. Familiar animals such as the lion, leopard, hyena, and elephant appear along with the lesser-known waterbuck, tsessebe, and dassie. After each folklore section, a page provides factual information about the beast. A chart lists basics such as height, weight, and lifespan; a map shows distribution on the continent; the text describes identifying features, habitat, habits, diet, and breeding. Occasionally the text in this section teeters toward fictionalizing. Can an animal's hunting technique be ``sophisticated?'' Does a zebra kick with ``murderous intent?'' But these are quibblesthe prose is clear, lively, and fun to read. The numerous illustrations are superb. They include black-and-white sketches and small color pictures at the head of each section. Best of all, part way through each tale, the book opens to a full-color double-page spread of the animal in an arresting pose. Physically, the book appeals with its glossy pages, red chapter headings, and well-designed layout. Ellen D. Warwick, Robbins Junior Library, Arlington, ass.