K-Gr 4-From the Dan people of northeastern Liberia comes this traditional tale of lazy Spider (a character akin to Anansi), who refuses to help his neighbors clear the land for the village farm, plant seeds, or pull weeds. Later on, when Spider decides to pick some ripe vegetables to eat with his rice, the tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins turn him away. ("Why do you think you can pick me when you didn't come to clear the land or plant my seeds or pull the weeds? Get out of here!" the tomato says.) Paschkis's brightly colored folk-art illustrations, similar to those in Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia (Holt, 2002), show the villagers to be an elephant, a hen, a crocodile, a leopard, a monkey, a snake, and a butterfly. Some of these animals are shown hiding among the talking vegetables, whose unfriendly faces convince Spider to run home and eat his rice plain. Read aloud, this simple but solid moralistic tale will delight youngsters and make them want to participate in the telling.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In a lightly buffed up version of a Dan tale first offered in their Why Leopard Has Spots (1998), a Liberian storyteller and his co-writer gently tweak a lazy trickster. Spider repeatedly refuses to join his neighbors as they band together to clear, plant and weed the collective farm. Nonetheless, he later goes out to claim a share of the harvest to supplement his diet of plain rice-and the vegetables themselves indignantly drive him away: "You didn't help make the farm. Go away!" In playful, semi-abstract illustrations, stylized figures float across monochrome backgrounds. The sinuous, deep black spider's fellow villagers are all animals decked out in bright colors and patterns (a blue elephant, a checkerboard crocodile), and Paschkis gives the garden vegetables large, comically offended expressions. There's no explicit moral, but the point's not going to escape many readers. A good choice for group sharing-along with, say, Angela Shelf Medearis's Too Much Talk (1995), illus by Stefano Vitale, or any version of "The Little Red Hen." (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)