Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Baba Wagué Diakité & illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-590-89828-0
Publisher: Scholastic

 DiakitÇ's first book makes bold use of memories of his childhood in West Africa and of the hand-painted ceramic tiles that appear as the illustrations in this book. ``There was a time'' when the crocodile, Bamba, and his family, finding themselves hungry and exhausted en route to Mecca, ask Donso the Hunterman to return them to the river. Fearing for his safety, Donso complies only after Bamba promises no harm, carrying the crocodiles into the water in a neatly tied stack. Bamba goes back on his word, however, and Donso must beg for mercy; he asks other creatures and plants for help, only to find that ``Man'' has treated the earth so badly that no one but clever Rabbit will help him. Not only does Donso regain solid footing on land, but due to Rabbit's tricks, the crocodiles are once again securely stacked on Donso's head, trussed and ready for a feast. At home Donso learns that his wife is gravely ill and in need of crocodile tears, which are joyfully offered by Bamba's family in exchange for freedom. The moral of this folktale--that people should place themselves among rather than above all other living things--is timely, but it is the breaking of promises, the sound effects as the creatures decline to help Donso, the intervention of Rabbit, and the surprise finale that will entertain children most and that makes this dramatic tale worthy of story-hour inclusion. Sources are offered in an author's note. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7)