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From the Animal Stories series, volume 1

retold by Lari Don & illustrated by Melanie Williamson

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-84686-774-3
Publisher: Barefoot Books

Is a tortoise too small and slow to be of any help?

There’s a drought in Africa, and all of the animals are hungry, when old rabbit remembers a story about a tree. “When the rain stops falling,” he says, “this wonderful tree grows every animal’s favorite fruit.” Stylized, colorful acrylics portray the woeful animals as they seek out the tree, but once they find it, they can’t get it to grow any fruit. After some experimentation, they come to the conclusion that they need to find out its name. Only the mountain is old enough to remember, so one by one, the animals journey to the mountain and try to find out. The lion, elephant and chimps all make an attempt, but by the time each of them returns to the tree, they’ve become too pleased with themselves and too distracted to remember the name. Now it’s up to the tortoise. The other animals have no faith he can do it—he’s too small and slow—but his steadiness and calm focus may just save them all. Simple vocabulary, straightforward text and plenty of repetition make this a good choice for somewhat experienced readers, while the gentle humor, accessible lesson and appealing illustrations make this a tale that children will savor.

This Zambian tale adapts well to the early-reader format.

(Folk tale/early reader. 5-7)