To get into this adaptation of a Bantu folk tale, you first have to accept the exotic premise that the fruit of the tree...

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THE TORTOISE AND THE TREE

To get into this adaptation of a Bantu folk tale, you first have to accept the exotic premise that the fruit of the tree cannot be picked or eaten until the animals have learned the tree's name from Mavera, the High God. Then, as one by one the hare, two buffaloes, two gazelles, and the elephant are sent to get the name from Mavera, you have to accept the god's stipulation that if they look back on the return trip they will forget the name. Of course they all do, and so it is up to the tortoise to bring the name, as he does. At the very end there is some shock when the greedy animals trample the tortoise to death in their scramble for the fruit, some satisfaction when the ants reassemble him and he crushes the others under the tree, and some pleasure in this explanation for the tortoise's ""patchwork"" shell. But instead of inviting the necessary involvement until the story picks up, Domanska's harsh illustrations seem designed (over-designed) to alienate. Though her chiwara-like gazelles are clever, her ants truly nifty, and other small African-styled animals attractive, they are all arrayed on inharmonious pages cluttered with arbitrary background designs which don't stay in the background. And the centrally featured tree, with its pink teardrop fruits hanging from the edges on half-white/half-green teardrop leaves, is a kindergarten art teacher's nightmare.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1978