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TOO MUCH TALK by Angela Shelf Medearis


by Angela Shelf Medearis & illustrated by Stefano Vitale

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56402-323-0
Publisher: Candlewick

A West African tale, carefully sourced, about a farmer whose yam and then dog talk to him. Terrified, he runs until he meets a fisherman who listens to the farmer's tale. `` `Oh,' said the fisherman, `that can't happen.' `Oh, yes it can,' the fish said to them.'' Terrified, the two of them run until they meet a weaver (whose cloth talks), a bather (the water talks), and the chief (his chair talks and ``he ran uphill and downhill and was never seen again''). The plot has all the poetic repetitions typical of folktales, but stripped down to the bare essentials, the minimalism becomes remarkable. Demonstrating exceptional timing, Medearis's narrative unwinds like a song with verses and refrains. On top of this, the deadpan comedy found in the contrast between the formal dialogue of the humans and the casual words of the yam, dog, cloth, water, and chair makes this some sort of miniature masterpiece. Vitale paints with oils on wood, using sweet, smoky colors. His flat, funny characters appear in exaggerated postures amid stylized landscapes with nominal perspective surrounded by patterned borders. Laugh with it or laugh at it—it's a great little book. (Picture book. 3+)