THE OGRESS AND THE SNAKE AND OTHER STORIES FROM SOMALIA

This satisfying anthology gathers eight traditional stories, collected from living tellers in a Somali region of Ethiopia. The title story shares some elements with “Hansel and Gretel” as five daughters are left to starve in the bush because their new stepmother doesn’t want to care for the girls, and in the last story, a princess bravely agrees to wed “The Miraculous Head,” a man born with no body but plenty of brains. In between are pourquoi tales and trickster tales, for a pleasing variety. Laird has heard the stories herself, although they were translated for her by a local expert, and smoothly retells them for a young audience. The black-and-white illustrations are childlike and include details of dress and everyday objects that set the stories in their homeland. An introduction about the author’s experiences in Somalia and Ethiopia and the short rhyme traditionally recited before a tale begins set the stage for an experience that too many readers do not have anymore—the enjoyment of oral story that teaches and gives pleasure to the ear and the mind at the same time. (Folklore. 7-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84597-870-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2009

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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INDIAN SHOES

A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. Ray and his Grampa Halfmoon live in Chicago, but Grampa comes from Oklahoma. Six vignettes make up the short chapters. Among them: Ray finds a way to buy Grampa the pair of moccasins that remind him of home and Smith gets in a gentle jab at the commercialization of Native American artifacts. At a Christmas stuck far away from the Oklahoma relatives the pair finds comfort and joy even when the electricity goes out, and in a funny sequence of disasters, a haircut gone seriously awry enables a purple-and-orange dye job to be just the ticket for little-league spirit. The language is spare, clean, and rhythmic, with a little sentimentality to soften the edges. Ray and Grampa have a warm and loving intergenerational bond that’s an added treat. With a nod toward contemporary Native Americans, Grampa tells Cherokee and Seminole family stories, and when Ray gets to be in a wedding party, the groom is Polish-Menominee and his bride is Choctaw. An excellent choice for younger readers from the author of the bittersweet Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029531-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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