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MASTER MAN by Aaron Shepard Kirkus Star


A Tall Tale of Nigeria

adapted by Aaron Shepard & illustrated by David Wisniewski

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-13783-0
Publisher: HarperCollins

Caldecott Medalist Wisniewski is clearly the “Master Man” of paper-cut illustration, powerfully demonstrated again with the delightful illustrations for this traditional tall tale from northern Nigeria. Shepard is a professional storyteller and Wisniewski a former clown and puppeteer, and both understand all the elements of holding an audience spellbound with a successful tall tale. In this fast-paced story of superheroes, Shadusa is a strong but boastful man who proclaims himself the strongest man in the world—Master Man. He is challenged by an enormous man who proclaims himself the real Master Man, and as that giant is chasing Shadusa, the huge man stumbles into a fight with an even more gigantic man (and those two giants are still fighting in the sky, causing thunder from their battles). Shadusa learns that his wife’s advice is correct: “No matter how strong you are, there will always be someone stronger. And watch out, or someday you may meet him.” The book’s design uses set-off text blocks and white speech balloons throughout and includes many pages with divided panels, giving the look of a sophisticated comic book and packing a lot of plot and action into 40 pages. Sound effects (“Splash!”) and key action words (“ROAR!”) are skillfully incorporated into the dramatic cut-paper collages, affording opportunities for audience participation during read-aloud sessions. The humorous story begs to be acted out and could easily be adapted into reader’s theater or a play. (The author offers a reader’s theater script on his Web site.) Pull this one out to read to a group of wiggly kids, and show them the power of a masterful picture book. (author’s source notes) (Picture book. 5-9)