When Lion Could Fly and Other Tales from Africa

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4-9-This sequel to When Hippo Was Hairy (Barron's, 1988) features animal tales from various parts of Africa, along with facts about the creatures themselves. Among the more exotic species included are servals, caracols, mongooses, aardvarks, pangolins, kudus, vervet monkeys, and dung beetles. The detailed illustrations and facts on habits, habitat, diet, lifespan, reproduction, and appearance are particularly useful. The book identifies the ethnic group from which each story comes, and provides a complete bibliography of sources. However, although readers see where the animals live, they do not see the people who tell the tales. Greaves uses outdated and pejorative terminology to refer to several groups (which he calls tribes), most notably the Efe and the Khoi, whom he refers to as Pygmies and Hottentots. While the realistic pictures will appeal to youngsters, the writing is dry. The brief adaptations lack the tension, drama, and style of the originals. A good source for information on animals, this volume unfortunately shortchanges the people of the continent. Tony Fairman's Bury My Bones, but Keep My Words (Holt, 1993) offers much more in terms of both cultural context and the spirit of the tales.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Sheilamae O'Hara
Books of African folk tales abound, but Greaves takes the unusual approach of combining folk tales with factual information about various animal species. Most of the stories deal with the ways that animals have acquired a distinguishing characteristic, and Greaves arranges his material to spotlight one animal, sometimes in a single story, sometimes in several. Each section is accompanied by a full- or double-page color illustration of excellent verisimilitude and beauty and usually one or more smaller sketches. And each concludes with statistical information about the animal, plus notes on identification, habitat, habits, diet, and breeding. Since many of the animals--such as the serval, caracal, and pangolin--are unfamiliar to Americans, the lifelike water colors and species data are particularly welcome. The stories are amusing, the artwork wonderful, and the factual information succinct and intelligible. Altogether, this book is a bonanza for folktale enthusiasts and wild animal lovers alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606060899
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Format: Library Binding

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