GRAINS OF PEPPER: Folk Totes from Liberia by Edythe R. Haskett

GRAINS OF PEPPER: Folk Totes from Liberia

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From two years of teaching in the interior of Liberia, Miss. Haskett has brought back twenty-six short, very direct Stories steeped in the flavor of Jungle and village life and dashed with the kind of detail that intrigues young children. Lots of surprises, too, for anyone accustomed to European fairy tales, besides a few satisfying echoes. Characteristic of the many animal fables is the romance of Lizard and Catfish, which shows that, with the best intentions, people should Still ""look for more than beauty when they marry;"" how things began is represented by the fate of the yams and cassavas: no longer ""devils, now underground, they are still the favorite food along the coast of West Africa. Then there's the clever king who found his true grandson because each mother, though transformed into a maiden identical to his daughter, behaved according to the manner of her kind (dog, rooster, cat), proving that ""each has some of his Father and most of his mother in him. Look at your friends and see."" The telling is low-keyed and artless, which is good, but it lacks the rhythms and timing of speech, which is too bad. Not for telling aloud, then, unless adapted, but easy, inviting reading, and an invitation to further learning. A brief history of Liberia precedes, a collection of Liberian proverbs concludes, and drawings by the author (that might have been done by her students) accompany.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1967
Publisher: John Day