Gr 2-5-A disappointing collection of 11 animal folktales from around the world. The notes unfortunately do not cite specific sources, but mention country and culture of origin. Although Yeoman explains that the best way to enjoy the tales is to tell them aloud, his retellings do not have the sound of oral literature. Instead, they rely heavily on adverbs, adjectives, and complex sentences. A comparison between his version of the title story and Harold Courlander and George Herzog's in The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories (Holt, 1988) illustrates Yeoman's more literary style. Whereas Courlander writes simply: ``Time passed. People began to say angry things to Ama,'' Yeoman's text is much wordier: ``Gradually, faint whispers began to run through the crowd; and then they turned into discontented muttering, which finally gave way to an outburst of anger and scorn.'' Nor do Blake's characteristically lively illustrations suit an international folktale collection. They minimize rather than highlight the differences among cultures, while their humorous quality lends the wrong tone to the more serious tales.-Kathleen Odean, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
Yeoman has collected folktales from throughout the world and retells them with wit, including several trickster tales and others in which the protagonist is punished severely for betraying a secret or failing to keep a pledge. In "The Ranee and the Cobra," a woman gives birth to twin foxes while a fox delivers two girls. No explanation is given for these unlikely events, and when the girls grow up and marry well, they are ashamed to tell their husbands of their unusual parentage. One kills her mother while the other conceals the body and pretends that her parents are wealthy jungle people. The murderess is suitably punished, but the liar is aided in her deception by a cobra with magic powers. In "Animal Language," a man is about to reveal a fatal secret to his wife when a rooster warns, "If he's as big a fool as that the world won't miss him. I've got over a hundred wives and if I find a tasty grain of corn in the yard I cluck-cluck-cluck until they all come running, and then I eat it myself. Just to show who's boss." Quite the proper cautionary tale. Many stories are humorous, and Blake's illustrations are droll--but feminist readers beware.