Books by Meshack Asare

SOSU’S CALL by Meshack Asare
Released: March 1, 2002

Originally published in 1997 in Ghana, this well-meaning but predictable story concerns a disabled boy who saves his village during a great storm by crawling to find a talking drum that will call the villagers back from the fields. Sosu's life is circumscribed by his lack of a wheelchair, which a grateful town finally secures for him as a reward for his brave actions. It is also limited because of traditional attitudes toward the disabled. Some people feel that he will bring bad luck to the local fishing industry or are terrified of his appearance. The sketchy, somber watercolors relying on a brown and tan palette brighten at the end as Sosu's life changes with his newly found mobility and acceptance by his neighbors. Set in a nameless West African village, this purposeful picture book may encourage discussion about living conditions for disabled children in countries around the world, but it has little appeal for the young recreational reader. Nonetheless, due to its universally important theme, the book is the winner of the 1999 UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance and a 2001 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities Award. (Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

Fourteen folktales from several regions of Africa, either collected by the author or adapted from hard-to-find printed sources. Fairman's deliciously lively writing belies his prefatory lament that ``a tale in a book is like a drum in a museum; it's silent, it's dead....'' Each story here is framed as a conversation between the storyteller—generally an older relative—and a thoroughly involved audience; side comments, rhetorical questions and invitations to join in on songs (often to a familiar melody like ``Jingle Bells'') or on sound effects make reading these almost as much a participatory experience as hearing them. From ancient Egypt comes the story of ``Zazamankh,'' whose difficult task is relieving Pharaoh's boredom; ``Omutugwa'' is a Kenyan Cinderella; in the pointed ``Hare and the White Man,'' a swindled human can't finger the culprit because all hares look alike to him. The stories feature a vigorous mixture of wisdom and foolishness, chills and hilarity, plus plenty of incidental information about village life in different areas. Brief source notes; occasional muted b&w illustrations. Fresh, funny, and almost audible. (Folklore. 10+) Read full book review >