THE HATSELLER AND THE MONKEYS

A WEST AFRICAN FOLKTALE

DiakitÇ (The Hunterman and the Crocodile, 1997) retells an African folktale—familiar to many children from Slobodkina’s Caps For Sale (1940)—with a combination of charming storyline, cleverly executed theme, inviting illustrations, and unusual sound effects for read-aloud fun. Tiny monkeys border the pages as readers are introduced to hatseller BaMusa. His head piled high with his dibiri and fugulan caps, and too anxious to eat breakfast, BaMusa starts out for a festival to sell his wares. He falls asleep under a mango tree, only to have a mischievous crowd of monkeys swipe his hard work. Hungry, not thinking straight, BaMusa tries to get the caps back but almost despairs. A meal of the mango fruit gives him the strength to trick the monkeys into relinquishing his inventory. The festive, authentic, painted-tile illustrations match the ebullience of the colorful story; preschoolers will love—again—this smart and satisfying tale of monkey-see, monkey-do. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-96069-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.”

SOMETIMES PEOPLE MARCH

Simple, direct statements are paired with watercolor illustrations to highlight some of the rallying causes for organized marches throughout the history of the United States.

The text and art begin with two marches that will reemerge as metaphor later in the book: a long line of ants marching to and from a piece of watermelon, and members of a blue-and-gold–clad marching band following their leader’s baton. As the band recedes on the verso, across the gutter an extremely diverse group of people similar to the crowds marching across the book’s cover advances toward readers on recto. Here the text repeats the book’s title. Next, negative space surrounds a small group of women and children—obviously from an earlier time—holding a protest sign. The text explains that sometimes people march “to resist injustice.” The facing page shows a contemporary family gazing with chagrin at a polluted beach; they will march because they “notice a need for change.” The text continues to offer simple explanations of why people march, eventually moving to other peaceful means of resistance, including signs, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, and “taking a knee.” Hardship in the form of physical and psychic exhaustion is mentioned, but police and other legally sanctioned violence against protest is not—the general mood is uplifting encouragement to young, potential activists. This timely book combines rudimentary facts about peaceful resistance with art that depicts organized actions from the 19th century through today, and endnotes reveal more specifics about each illustration, including historic figures represented.

Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.” (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299118-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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HOW CHIPMUNK GOT HIS STRIPES

A TALE OF BRAGGING AND TEASING

Noted storyteller Bruchac (Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, p. 1498, etc.) teams up with his son, James (Native American Games and Stories, not reviewed) to present a pourquoi tale from the East Coast Native American tradition. Bear is undeniably big; he is also a braggart, given to walking through the forest and proclaiming his superiority to all within earshot: “I can do anything! Yes, I can!” When he hears this, little Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to tell the sun not to rise the next day. This Bear does, and when the sun does in fact rise despite his injunction not to, Brown Squirrel unwisely gloats: “Bear is foolish, the sun came up. Bear is silly, the sun came up.” Thanks to trickery, Brown Squirrel escapes with his life, but not before Bear claws the stripes into his back that cause him to change his name to Chipmunk. The Bruchacs translate the orality of the tale to written text beautifully, including dialogue that invites audience participation. Aruego and Dewey’s (Mouse in Love, p. 886, etc.) signature cartoon-like illustrations extend the humor of the text perfectly. One spread shows the faces of all the animals rejoicing in the yellow light of the newly risen sun—all except Bear, whose glower contrasts ominously with Brown Squirrel’s glee. Clever use of perspective emphasizes the difference in size between boastful Bear and his pint-sized trickster opponent. Authors’ notes precede the story, explaining the history of the tale and each teller’s relationship to it. A winner. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2404-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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