Br’er Rabbit’s ancestor, the West African rascal Hare, lives in this vividly delineated retelling.
All the animals were searching for water, except for Hare, who was asleep. When they find a clear spring, they decide to guard it from those who didn’t work to find it. Monkey is first, but Hare comes by with his empty calabash (a kind of bowl), sticks a finger in it and licks it: “Dee-licious!” Hare tells Monkey to shut his eyes to get a taste, but what Hare does, of course, is steal some water and run away. Hyena gets fooled too, so the animals decide to make a sticky doll to guard the water. Hare tries to fool the doll and gets nicely stuck to it, and while the animals debate what to do with him, he slyly begs not to thrown into the “spiny, thorny bushes.” Readers can probably figure out how that ends. The marvelous illustrations are made with hand-painted watercolor Ingres papers patterned in burnished savannah colors. Grass and thorns, birds and leaves and each individual animal are placed against the sand-colored background.
A visually enchanting and aurally engaging retelling of an old, old tale. (author’s note) (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)