SONG BIRD by Tololwa M. Mollel


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Age Range: 5 - 8
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Mollel (Kitoto the Mighty, 1998, etc.) skillfully reshapes this African tale about a magical bird that defeats a cow-stealing monster. Mariamu’s family can’t understand why their cattle are disappearing. One day, when clearing a field to grow food, Mariamu hears a magical bird singing. The bird tells her if she will spare the land (and the bird’s eggs), the bird will help restore milk to Mariamu’s family. Mariamu agrees, and the magical bird brings back the original field, and fills all the jugs and gourds with milk. Then Mariamu’s parents get greedy, capturing the bird while visions of an endless milk supply dance in their heads. Mariamu, of course, rescues the bird, and it is so grateful that it leads the girl to the monster who has stolen all the cows; together they rescue the cattle. Mollel includes words in Swahili and some excellent sound effects: “birim” for the sound of empty gourds rolling, “gulum” for the sound of swallowing. This fleshing out of the old tale and Litzinger’s spry, expressive watercolors make a vibrant presentation, ideal for noisy story-hour reenactment. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-82908-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999