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THE OGRESS AND THE SNAKE AND OTHER STORIES FROM SOMALIA by Elizabeth Laird

THE OGRESS AND THE SNAKE AND OTHER STORIES FROM SOMALIA

By Elizabeth Laird (Author) , Shelley Fowles (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 11

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-84597-870-6
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

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)