A BASKET FULL OF WHITE EGGS: Riddle-Poems by Brian Swann
Kirkus Star


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By a poet-professor with a specialty in Native American culture, a collection of 15 riddles from international folkloric sources reframed in a cadenced, graceful style: ""Over a flat rock a tomato's redness slowly spreads out--Mayan"" (the sun). Most of the answers can be discerned in the expansive, double-spread illustrations; they are also listed, along with precise references to the sources, at the end. Without the illustrations, some of these riddles might seem difficult, and not always apt, to American children; it is not obvious, for example, why a squash can be seen as walking in the Yoruba riddle, ""The child is walking. Its mother is crawling."" But some of the selections beautifully encapsulate elements intrinsic to the various cultures--the Alaskan salmon jumping upstream, the Aztec women's hands coming together like butterfly wings; other subjects are universal--stars, sleep, thunder, a wave. The monumental art contributes to the sense of universality; though enriched by images from diverse cultures, the serene illustrations (self-framed by a half-inch extension in black-and-white of their rich colors) are linked by color, style, and their suggested cycle of the hours of a single day--from the title's basket of stars to a lovely Turkish riddle comparing ""My grandfather's blue silk tunic"" to the night sky ""studded with coins."" A handsome, unusual collection.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard/Franklin Watts