An intense artistic experience awaits the reader of this highly moral, Malian version of a “magic pot” folktale. Rabbit saves Iguana from his imprisonment in a thorny bush and receives the “magic gourd” with its bottomless bounty as his reward. Rabbit shares his good fortune with everyone, until the avaricious king hears the stories. When the king takes the bowl, Iguana comes to Rabbit’s rescue with a second gift, a magic stone that continually hits the king and forces him to bargain with Rabbit and eventually to return the gourd to him. In fact, he becomes so exasperated that he tells Rabbit to take the food in his storage bins as well as his gold, but when Rabbit leaves with only his rightful possession, the king takes it as a lesson. Diakité educates, entertains, and visually enchants from beginning to end. The back cover is a large, arresting picture of the smiling author-illustrator with his two beautiful daughters, holding a large bowl similar to the ones in the photographic images popping out of the deeply-colored pages of the interior. Richly detailed bowls, plates, sculptures, and textiles display stylized characters and mud cloth patterns that symbolize many concepts meaningful to the Bamana people of Mali. Diakité provides a wealth of explanatory material as well as glossary of Bambara words used in the text that greatly enhances the telling. The last few pages include a praise song and an author’s note about learning stories about the clever Zazani, or Rabbit, in childhood. A description of the traditional mud cloth patterns used as the borders of the tiles and platters offers additional insights and will send the careful reader back to the story again and again. Finally, Diakité ends with a feature found in his earlier works, The Hunterman and the Crocodile (1997) and The Hatseller and the Monkeys (1999): the description of the international variants of this type of tale. Richly rewarding indeed. (Folktale. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-43960-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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