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THE MAGIC GOURD by Baba Wagué Diakité Kirkus Star


by Baba Wagué Diakité & illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-43960-4
Publisher: Scholastic

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)